Paul Freedman

I am the founding Director of The Salmonberry School in Eastsound, WA. I have taught elementary school in public and private settings for the past 19 years. I serve as a contributing editor for Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice (Formerly the Holistic Education Review.) I also serve on the faculty of the Self Design Graduate Institute. I hold an MA in EDU from Goddard College.
Paul Freedman has written 19 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

11 things missing

Since I have devoted much of the last twelve years to the birth, care and feeding of an independent holistic school for roughly 40 kids 3-12 years of age, I’m often asked To articulate what is unique about Salmonberry School – this sweet and admittedly imperfect little school on an island in North Puget Sound.  … Continue reading

National Day of Action-Seattle Testing Boycott

Sorry for the late notice on this, Co-op friends.  But in case you haven’t heard…  Teachers at the Garfield School in Seattle have been boycotting the mandated administration of the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test here in Seattle.  This is a WA State mandated standardized test.  Garfield teachers say they have been forced to … Continue reading

Engaging with Godzilla

“We are bad Godzillas!”  I heard the familiar husky little voice of a 4-year-old student at my school while I was out working in the recess yard.  This boy, Vlad often exhibits a somewhat negative influence on the world around him, and is the source of many student complaints and staff hand-wringing.  His verbal warning … Continue reading

I know nothing…but I’m learning

I had a wonderful meandering conversation recently with Co-op Cat, Scott Nine.  We shared ideas and thoughts on a wide range of topics.  But one has really stuck with me: “maybe we should be less focused on knowing and more focused on learning.”  Our educational system and our culture as a whole has seriously privileged … Continue reading

Engaged Pedagogy

There’s one heck of a problem in American education today.  There seems to be absolute consensus on this point.  After all, student test scores are woeful in comparison to those of other industrialized nations.  And the test scores of students of color reveal a gap that exposes a culture of privileging the already privileged, that … Continue reading

Human-scale Schools and the Struggle to Survive: the Garden Road Story

Last week, while at the AERO conference in Portland, OR, I had the privilege to attend one of the most courageous and honest workshops I have ever witnessed.  The Co-op’s own Donna Mikkelsen and her partner/colleague Terese Giammarco gave a beautiful introduction to the Garden Road School’s unique approach to small-school holistic education, called Community … Continue reading

School Starters Who Write: Another Crowdsourced Celebration

Many educators dream of starting or leading a school or educational alternative.  How often do we teachers fantasize about the utopian school we would create if given the opportunity?  All the things that don’t work in the contemporary industrialized model of schooling, and the myriad ways in which mainstream education places itself somewhere on the … Continue reading

Holons, Fractals and Dendrites, Oh My!

I’m sure some of you are familiar with the theory of “holons” that forms a significant part of the foundation of holistic education.  According to this theory, originally posited by Arthur Koestler in the 1960’s, and taken up by many subsequent holistic thinkers (notably philosopher, Ken Wilber, physicist, David Bohm, and educator/historian, Ron Miller) the … Continue reading

Kid Politics

Did anyone else listen to last weekend’s broadcast of This American Life on NPR?  The episode was called “Kid Politics” and aired on 1/14.  If you missed it you can listen here: This American Life In a nutshell the hour-long episode told the stories of four separate settings in which kids were given what are usually … Continue reading

“Education and the Consciousness of the Developing Child” – A Review

I want to introduce you Co-op Catalyst readers to a brilliant and insightful author.  Josette Luvmour, partner of Co-op Blogger, Ba Luvmour, has written a brilliant article which appears in the current issue of Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice.  Here is a link to the full text of the article (thanks to the … Continue reading

Auld Lang Syne

The holiday season can be a time for pause and reflection.  This winter I am making an effort to reconnect with some old friends.  In particular, I have been meeting with and talking to a small group of parents with whom I founded a school.  Back in 2001, these parents entrusted the care and education … Continue reading

An Ethic of Excellence – part deux

In the first half of Ron Berger’s terrific book, An Ethic of Excellence, the author beautifully describes many aspects of building a “culture of excellence.”  Excellence is not about individual achievement as much as creating a culture and building a community where a certain quality of work is valued and expected.  I love much of … Continue reading

Meeting Sal Khan

I attended an independent schools conference outside Seattle yesterday (Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools Educators’ Conference: Innovation and Change in the Classroom).  I was excited to listen to keynote speaker Sal Khan of the unvelievably “trending” Khan Academy.  Upon arrival I was surprised to receive a note that my question (which I had previously … Continue reading

I took the PSAT’s…again!

Well, the title of this post isn’t exactly true.  Actually, I last took the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) about 27 years ago.  Scoring well on this test is an important step towards qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship (weird process, talk about privileging the already privileged!) So when my 14 year old son came … Continue reading

An Ethic Of Excellence – Introduction

On David L’s recommendation, a number of us are reading or re-reading Ron Berger’s book, An Ethic of Excellence.  I hope many of you have read this text or will join us in doing so in the coming weeks.  I will volunteer to get the conversation started with my reflection on the book’s introduction, available here:  … Continue reading


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