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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 08.12.22

Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

How the cow killed the hare. Completely by accident

Yesterday Charlie and I spent time at the Dana Point’s Ocean Institute. We met with five Harbor Freight Fellows, their CTE teacher, the Executive Director of Ocean Institute, a non-profit director coordinating Harbor Freight Fellows and some great volunteers. Two of the young women Harbor Freight Fellows were recent high school graduates and on their way to Stanford and Cal Poly. All of them were preparing two 100-foot-long wooden masts that will be fitted onto the hull of the new Spirit of Dana Point, a replica of a privateer schooner. They are learning traditional ship building techniques and processes that show just how much people knew about nature and building for hundreds of years. When I asked the Fellows what they learned from doing this work that is different from learning in a classroom or from a book the usual happened. Their responses were just eye-opening from knowing about different types of woods like purple heart to being able to do things that schools just won’t allow them to do because of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

This HFF program got the CTE teacher outside the school working in a different environment. Place matters and work that is meaningful to a community matters. Because of regulations most of this work could not be done in school. It is not that it is dangerous. It is that schools are so tied to over-regulation of using materials and tools, Everything is so controlled, it becomes technical, neither personal nor real and therein lies the problem of work becoming meaningless.

If all goes well in the near future Ocean Institute will become a B-U site.

Economic Mobility

David Brooks: “It’s interesting to me that one of the most powerful tools for improving a person’s life prospects is something that is not intentionally about improving life prospects.”

I’m still on a bit of a jag about the economic mobility study done by Raj Chetty of Harvard and it turns out I’m not the only one. In his column David Brooks asked a question I wanted to ask:

“When I spoke with Chetty last week about the study, I asked him: What is it exactly about these friendships that is so powerful?”

“He said the data doesn’t enable us to answer that question.”

It seems like it is always the case that these single-focused studies don’t probe deeply enough. But, part of Raj Chetty speculations was this bit.

Chetty: “We enter friendships because we delight in each other’s company. We enjoy the same activities and interests.”

I think Chetty is on the money here and that his speculation is what makes the difference in many instances in our work and in real life. Relationships and interests together are very important ways of focusing real-world learning experiences in mentoring programs. Now someone needs to give us the funds to finally do the study about what we already know so, policies, programs and approaches might change.

Anthonette and I just got off a great call with Nate Adams who directs the work of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) in New Rochelle, NY. Nate gets both the relationship and interest piece. We will be starting B-U work in MBK this Fall. This Zoom was followed by a Zoom with Joe Youcha and Mike Meotti, Executive Director Washington Student Achievement Council (WASC)- Washington’s higher education agency. Mike’s work is to bring groups doing things differently to communities in Washington focused on changing the parameters of who certifies and trains people for work that is meaningful. He is looking for community groups to do that work rather than just 2- and 4-year colleges. We came up with a number of places for us to fit in as well as for WASC to take a look at B-U/ImBlaze and IBPLC platforms.

Last week, I gave a keynote on Learning Through Play at the What School Could Be Summit. This week, I followed up with people at the same time slot to have a further discussion. Two people Donna DeMarco of Kutztown University in PA and Adjout Kader at Beaver Country Day School near Boston had lots to add to the conversation about play and how to get more play into their schools. Since school is the foil of play, this is not an easy challenge. Schools are serious and play is a complete waste of time. How do you move schools toward being more about play? This follow-up on Zoom was a great addition to a keynote. Duly noted to do this form of follow-up every time after a keynote.

Next week, I’m in Newark at our 3-1-1 celebration. If all goes well we can take the program statewide and to other states this coming year.

Be well!

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