So last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend my first Pecha Kucha (roughly pronounced puh CHA chuh). Pecha Kucha originated with an architectural firm in Tokyo that grew weary of long-winded design presentations. Their remedy was to create a presentation format that emphasized speed, clarity and cohesiveness. Each speaker or presenter in a Pecha Kucha gathering is allowed to use a maximum of twenty powerpoint slides. Each powerpoint slide rotates after a maximum of twenty seconds. The result is that each speaker has only six minutes and forty seconds to get their idea across to the audience.
The main emphasis of Pecha Kucha is the open exchange of ideas in a casual forum. Creating time limitations forces speakers to be creative and inventive in the way they organize their information. Some Pecha Kucha's have a guiding theme. The theme of the PK I attended was education. Other PK's are a smorgasbord of new ideas from architecture, graphic design, music, art, politics, etc...
A classmate of mine at SMU, Sarah Jane Semrad, is the co-organizer of the Dallas Pecha Kucha. The PK they hosted last night was the seventh edition. There are over 300 PK chapters around the world and has become a true global phenomenon.
The setting for Thursday's Pecha Kucha was interesting in and of itself. The Texas Theatre is notorious in the annals of Dallas history for being the location where Lee Harvey Oswald was nabbed by police after the JFK assassination. The seats have been replaced but theater employees can show the geopgraphical location where Oswald was found slumped down in his seat as he tried to avoid arrest.
The Texas Theatre shut down for many years until recently when it was renovated and reopened. Today it shows both classic and arthouse films. It also hosts all kinds of local events. This next weekend they will be hosting an OU-texas (mainly Sooners) watch party. The restored interior stuco design is undulating and organic. They truly do not make theaters the way they used to.
Kimberly and I watched twelve presentations. There was a ten-minute intermission at the mid-point. Speakers included Sarah Jane's twelve-year old daughter, principals, administrators, teachers, school architects,a participant in the Special Olympics, tutors and more. The evening ended with a rousing presentation from the newest trustee on the Dallas Independent School Board.
We walked out charged up and ready to make a difference in our educational system. Fortunately Kimberly and I are in the trenches so to speak as educators. It's not hard for us to become involved since that's our actual profession. As we walked out of the Texas Theatre a rare and spectacular lightning storm was exploding over our heads. We got in the car before the downpour began. I found the metaphor obvious: lightning fast ideas sparking a downpour of innovation and achievement.