| Jul 14, 2010
IRA's 23rd World Congress on Reading got off to a rousing start with a Welcoming Reception on Monday evening, July 12. The program featured a Maori powhiri, or welcome, performed by students from Rosebank School in Auckland, as well as welcoming comments from New Zealand Reading Association President Rex Morris, IRA Exective Director William Harvey, IRA President Patricia Edwards, and Local Arrangements Chairperson Heather Bell. "My hope," said Edwards, "is that you will leave here committed to taking back what you learn to your school or university."
At the Opening General Session on Tuesday morning, keynote speaker Stuart McNaughton of the University of Auckland delivered a presentation titled "Cautious Optimism: Can Pressing Literacy Challenges Be Solved?" He used a variety of data to show cause for both pessimism and optimism but ended on an upbeat note. While acknowledging that there are many factors affecting student achievement that are beyond the control of schools, he noted that there are many areas in which schools and teachers can have a positive influence, especially if we focus on becoming better informed, creating better processes, and caring about the inequalities that constrain us, acting where we can to relieve those inequalities.
More than 800 registrants for the World Congress also enjoyed a wide range of workshops, papers, poster sessions, roundtable discussions, and symposia spotlighting topics of interest to literacy educators throughout the world. Watch for further updates on the conference on Reading Today Daily, as well as full coverage in the August/September issue of Reading Today.