All over the world children are starting school for the first time. Their eagerness and excitement is infectious. The joy of learning is in every ounce of their bodies and souls, and they will soon be joining a community of other children, as friends and playmates. They want to learn, play, and create. They know nothing of aims or outcomes, nothing of grades or learning tracks. They just want to run and jump, discovering and exploring what the world has to offer. They know nothing of the purpose of education, because learning is has been their life since birth.
All over the world children are starting school for the first time, at schools where their eagerness and excitement is essential and cherished, schools that see them as vital members of the learning community along with their teachers and families, schools where every member has a voice and participates in making the school democratic and authentic. These schools are designed with the children’s uniqueness and energy as their guides. They support and embrace the many holistic ways each child learns. These learners spend their day in independent and interdependent engagement and meaningful learning adventures, that emerge from their interests and questions and are guided by their growth and development. The flexible curriculum and environment are rich in experiences that support physical, social, emotional, spiritual and academic development.
All over the world, children are starting their first day at the thousands of learning communities, that are designed as if they matter. These learning communities look nothing like the schools of the past, where learning and life were separate and were only attended in one’s youth. Many learning communities are not schools at all, and are as diverse and unique as the people they serve. They provide a living and learning environment that helps to develop and cultivate personal growth, authentic relationships and a balance between personal, communal, and ecological well-being. These learning communities help to meet the complex and holistic needs of an inter-generational community for both their present and future life with happiness, empowerment, and passionate active inquiry.
These types of learning communities don’t just happen, they take thoughtful cultivation and intentional design.
Every day we are presented with news stories, and countless blog posts presenting a negative narrative of the state of learning, education, and schools in America today. We talk about outcomes and test scores, about accountability and rigorous academics, about drop out rates and bad teachers.
We are really good as a nation about voicing what we do not want and what is not working, yet we spend little air time presenting a story of what we do want.
While these negative narratives helped to rally educators, students, parents and communities to stand up together and try to reclaim their voice in education transformation, it has not helped us move towards a positive vision of what education can be.
As we stand up to rally on the steps of city hall or at the Department of Education, or at school board meetings or state capitals, let us rally for a Transformed education, for a positive vision of learning, for education and learning that matters.
Let’s use our energy and our coming together to OPT IN to what we want our education to look like, and start to collectively vision both locally and nationally towards these visions.
What is your positive vision for a transformed education?