The theme for the 2019 KU Annual Conference ‘The Power of the Question’ invites participants to consider the art of questioning to stimulate thinking and inquiry. This years conference keynote speaker is Alise Shafer Ivey. 

Alise spent a few minutes telling us how the theme of this year’s conference ties in with her work, and what we can expect to hear from her keynote presentation.

The KU Annual Conference has the theme of “The Power of the Question”. How does this tie in with your work?

To think is to question, to question is to assume that you don’t know. In that precarious, but exciting space of not knowing we are open to learn, to think, to imagine. Perhaps Daniel Wahl says it best in his book, Redesigning Generative Cultures, “The art of asking beautiful questions is about i) challenging assumptions ii) inquiring about things normally taken for granted, and iii) wondering about new possibilities.”  Indeed, our questions, and perhaps, more importantly, the questions that children ask, are the catalyst to innovation, empathy and understanding.

 What are some of the key messages that you share with your audience?

School has traditionally been a place of questions and answers, call and response. The tidy answers that keep education efficient and measurable undermine the educational goals of thinking, seeking multiple perspectives and acknowledging the messiness that marks the human experience. 

 What are the main aspects of your keynote presentation?

During our time together, we will investigate the intersection of science and imagination. We will explore the edges of what is plausible, and imagine realms of possibility that exist beyond the boundaries of narrow truths. We will ask ourselves, how can schools foster thinking that recognizes and embraces the great complexity of life?

 What are your top three tips for educators?

  1. Listen
  2. Doubt and believe, simultaneously and in equal measure
  3. Question every unexamined belief about what it means to teach and what it means to learn (if only because it’s a good habit to question our assumptions and fight complacency)


Alise is an educational consultant, Founder and Executive Director of the Pedagogical Institute of Los Angeles, and retired Founder and Director of Evergreen Community School in Santa Monica, California.
She works privately with schools throughout the US and abroad including China, New Zealand, Korea, Nepal, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Peru.  In her role as Executive Director of the Pedagogical Institute, she supports teachers in underserved public schools through The Collaborative Teacher Project.
In 2018, she created The Nest, a play space for young refugee children in Lesvos, Greece. Alise also speaks regularly at conferences internationally and was a speaker at TEDx Sunset Park.
Her work is informed by a strong belief in the competence of young children.
For more information about Alise and her work go here:

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