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Catalyze on!

I’m excited.  I’m excited to be writing here to all of you.  I’m excited about IDEA and its work.  I’m really excited about everything that is happening in the world around us.

Sure, there is lots of messed up stuff happening.  In fact it’s worth taking a moment to pause a few breaths and let the hurt sink in (I’m really pausing for a minute).

There is plenty not going well.

But, it is too easy to get lost in the land of “not good enough”.  The land where teachers aren’t good enough, parents aren’t good enough, principals aren’t good enough, I’m not good enough, you’re not good enough, dare I say it . . . politicians aren’t good enough.  You get the picture.

I learned from Ram Dass at a retreat post 9/11 that pain, confusion, and hurt can be our allies.  We don’t need to shove them away, we don’t need to get angry, we need to see them clearly and find ways to make space for seeing the whole picture.

And when it comes to the whole picture, I can’t help but get excited about the many bright spots that are out there.

Amid all the challenges we face in thinking about teaching, learning, justice, ecological and economic devastation, poverty, and more —– there are so many people do so many interesting things that matter.

But what really gets me excited (yes I love that word and yes I really am excited and hope it is coming through) is that we are in a moment in time in which all those people doing all those interesting things that matter are beginning to talk, trust, and strategize together.  We are early in the process but some dots are beginning to get connected.

IDEA is trying to spur on the connecting and highlight the bright spots.  IDEA is an organization that is strategically attempting to impact the local and national conversation towards evolving educational practices to ensure that youth can be meaningfully involved in their learning while having the tools they need to create a more just, democratic, and sustainable world.

We are constantly asking questions like:
1.  How do we catalyze real educational change that matters in the lives of youth and our communities?
2.  What tools will we need, and our youth in particular, to shape local and global communities that are healthy.

IDEA is a pragmatic bunch.  We are clear that there is no time for utopia and that the world exists the way that it does and we need to meet it where it is at.

But we also know that our pragmatic action can be guided by what we most want.

For too long, conversations about education have been focused on school funding, standardized scores, and the most recent bright-shiny thing – teacher quality.

It isn’t that these things aren’t important.  The root behind each of them is relevant and important.  But they lack vision, imagination, and focus.

We need to be having better conversations, clearer visions, and struggling to put those ideas into action.  We need to fail.  We need to risk.  We need to find ways to listen and really engage with each other.  We need to encourage each other (thanks Dr. Harding!).

I believe there is a moral, spiritual, ecological, and even economic imperative (if you need one) for making meaningful change.

The Cooperative Catalyst is an exciting place because it is yet one more effort of really thoughtful people doing just that – starting a better conversation about learning, youth, and education.

IDEA thinks there are better ways to be telling the stories of what is working.  We think there are better ways to network and strategize together.  And we think that together better conversations, resources, and networks can begin to catalyze real change on the ground in ways that matter.

So catalysts, catalyze on!  Your stories, thoughts, and questions are just the kind of fuel I think we need.

Thanks for inviting me and IDEA to be part of this conversation and please accept my invitation to connect back with us.

Adam and I have begun to lay the groundwork for cross-pollinating and cross-posting.  We’ll seek opportunities to meet in person when we can, we’ll discuss more significant ways we can learn and build on what each group is doing, and we’ll determine how we can combine and be potent working together.

Here’s to the beginning of a great new friendship,



2 thoughts on “Catalyze on!

  1. A friendship for the Ages! Also I am working with IDEA so if anyone else wants to get involved feel free to pick my brain, but not my nose 🙂 about it!

    Thanks for the boost of energy Scott!


    Posted by dloitz | September 3, 2010, 11:36 am
  2. Oh Scott! I love you so much man! And I’m really excited you’re here! (I hope that’s coming through…)

    IDEA is doing incredible things already, and the thoughtfulness, care, and sense that we-are-going-to- get-some-shit-done has impressed me at every point. I am ready to learn along with you about what you learn, and also to support and put my own shoulder into it.

    On a more personal note, in my training with the Center for Courage and Renewal, we talk a lot about the importance of acknowledging the real pain we feel about existential stuff: the state of the world, the state of our profession, the state of our little bobbing cork in the ocean of education reform. We work with that, the discernment and the naming, as the platform for real action. The naming itself is the pathway to transformation and activism. So thank you for describing that. I think that’s some of what we are doing here at the COOP.

    I too am so excited by what is happening in our world, and the seeds of change that are everywhere. Check out this video, if you haven’t seen it already, made by high school students (Speak UP) about what would make high school more meaningful.

    If we say that NAMING itself is a platform for transformation and activism, how can we not be excited?

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | September 7, 2010, 10:59 am

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