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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 10.21.2022

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

T S Eliot

Perhaps in this day and age of digital metaphors replacing mechanistic metaphors, this T S Eliot quote takes on a slightly different or more intense meaning. Going from nuts and bolts to zeros and ones gets a bit more abstract but at least during the industrial age people could open up the back of a contraption or look under the hood to figure out how to fix what was broken instead of throwing it away. That said, I just finished The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. Most people know Albom from his best-seller Tuesdays with Morrie but this is a very different theme. Musicians, artists, skilled trades, athletes and yes, scientists think of mentoring and coaching differently than most educators. To them coaching is instruction in technique and mentoring is about knowledge becoming wisdom. How is mentoring and coaching changing in a digital age?

Here I am last Sunday reading The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto when out of nowhere a zebra dove flies over, lands on my head and stays there. One reason I'm really engaged in this book is because there’s a great deal in here that has parallels to my son Michael’s life specifically, as a musician and someone who had an uncanny sense and feel for the world. When I showed this photo at our International meeting to Taylor, Sonn, Viv, David Gersten and Katrina, without knowing anything about the connection to Michael, Taylor sent me back this note about doves. Doves bring messages of peace and hope to a hurting heart. Doves as a totem animal belong to those whose gentle compassion heals the world.

Well, Taylor got me on the first sentence, let alone the second. Taylor, Thanks for your gift in words.


At a meeting on Kauai on Wednesday, we had a great discussion with board members both from the Namahana Education Foundation (NEF) and the Namahana School. These two entities have loads of work ahead of them to make Namahana a reality and they are committed to doing it while at the same time keeping their sense of humor. Work at Namahana is high stakes for this community that is at the cusp of how Kauai ought to be as a place that holds onto its ‘people, principal and purpose’ without damage and intrusions from the outside. Everyone recognizes, it is their youth that will lead the change.

Something about projects

By definition, most projects have a beginning, middle and end. They are planned with known end goals in mind and this is why they neatly fit right into the way that things have always been done in schools. How different are they than traditional school can vary but the management of a project in and out of school is pretty similar. You manage to meet the goals that were set in a certain period of time.

Although there is project work in BPL, it is the long-haul nature of our work that makes the difference. It is work that is never complete. It doesn’t have an ending but is on-going. Without looking at the consequences of work overtime, it is part and parcel the reason why with projects there is little long-term accountability. Just get in there, do it, get out and let someone else worry about the consequences. Sounds a bit harsh? Acid-test it on projects around the world and watch the lawsuits pile up around who is responsible.

More and more foundations set up grants like projects with a beginning, middle and end with set goals to reach. In getting ready for reporting out on our LEGO grant, our team did a good job making the markers we needed to reach but for us this work is beyond those indicators.

It is long-haul. For example, the long-haul work around the IBPLC is to push and change the paradigm from - How smart you are to a test to How you are smart in the world in and outside of school. This is not a turn the page or linear initiative that can be managed by a timeline but work that you have to muddle through and learn every step of the way.

At the Relationship Centered Schools Conference put on by Mentor, Maddie “rocked it.” I really like it when our Alums take the lead, describe the work and blow everyone away by their understanding and presence.

Today, Danique and Jasmine, Angel and Co. will be presenting BPLiving to the BPL board.

Next week the BPLiving workshop out to the world. Once again, the initiative is driven by youth supported by adults

We are starting to bring the 311 to the west coast. Both the school in the Port of Los Angeles and the union are looking into it and excited about the program. And, Charlie’s been in South Carolina and Yolo County where HFF is becoming part of the fabric of CTE.

Next week, I’m back in San Diego with meetings up in LA. Marsha-Gail is in town and we will be getting together.

The question I’m asking myself this week comes off of a short film I watched produced by Kelly Candeale having a conversation with Ernesto Cortes Jr. about power, politics, the uses of anger, etc. is: “We have a lot of programs but do we have a lot of power?”

Be Well!

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