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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 11.18.2022

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

All that shines is not gold A few days ago Frank Wilson sent me an article, The Beautiful Brutal World of Bonsai. This story is about how a young Ryan Neil moved to Japan to spend years as an apprentice to a master of Bonsai. Initially, he had no clue what he was getting into or where this would all lead but that journey is reserved for reading the whole story. For our work, what is informative about Ryan’s tale is the explanation of a historical perspective on internships and apprenticeships that most of the time we don’t think about or have little clue about. First off, before we glorify or yearn for the past, servile style apprenticeships were the norm until the industrial age. Old style apprenticeships were physically and emotionally brutal over long periods of time. Even now as this article points out, masters exploit apprentices and that history is manifested in many instances as remnants in our present world of medicine, music, sports, university researchers and in trades and service work. In our work, here's the change and the difference, in the realm of real-world learning and Learning Through Internships (LTI’s), we have always been aware of past and present practices of young people in the workplace and how to manage these practices for the good. This is why we have developed advisor and co-navigator roles to manage adult/youth as well as peer to peer relationships. Yes, with LTI’s there is an adult intermediary here. They know both the student and the adult mentor and they keep up an on-going relationship. That’s a very big difference. “In order to truly copy a master, an apprentice must break free.” The other part of this article related to our work deals with breaking away from your master/mentor and developing your own style. This is really a function of learning how hard it is to get really good at something. Once again, it wasn’t long ago that professors encouraged their doctoral students to start their own practice. Now with the emergence of research universities, these same people have a much harder time breaking away and developing their own research. Case in point, thirty years ago the average age of a first-time awardee of an NIH grant was 28. Now it is 42. Basically, you are working for your professor rather than breaking away and developing your own work (style). The story of Ryan Neil is how he goes from being servile to being self-directed. Again, our vision for all students is to be self-directed from the get-go with adult support over time. This a very different design and process for learning.

In their recent blog, Michael Horn and Daniel Curtis pointed out that seventy percent of parents from all walks of life are interested in exploring other in and out of school educational options. Also, he pointed out that children from underserved backgrounds are nearly two times less likely to participate in out-of-school learning programs. This is where both B-Unbound and our work with schools beyond BPL comes into play.

On our 311 Credential Zoom, we found out that the school board of Newark approved a plan to have carpenters and a host of other employees who work for the school district have student interns. Does this mean that schools have now brought the outside inside? It is a very interesting policy that may resolve some issues around privacy and security of student data and allow way more students ways to connect to adults around their interests. After Thanksgiving the CTE and Workforce staff will be looking at ImBlaze and B-Unbound platforms to manage these internships. New Forms New Measures BPL Board member Loren Adrian attended our Wednesday Meeting where he had an opportunity to hear from New Forms New Measures Initiatives – Harbor Freight, BPLiving, Project InSight, B-Unbound, International Big Picture Learning Credential, and the Vermont Initiative. The hour was well spent. He had little to no idea about this large body of work but will now be able to go back to the board. Educe – to draw out something hidden Induce, reduce, deduce, produce and all the other ‘..duces’ are more commonly used by us than educe. Lots of knowledge that people have is the knowledge they don’t know they have. This is tacit knowledge where you know more than you think you know or you know more than you can say. This is where you educe what is already there but has not yet appeared. In one way or another if we are in the groove or zone with students we are all educing. My Roman Holiday

A few days ago when I was in Rome with friends, we were walking in a neighborhood off the beaten path to find a community market where people go for their food and to chat. Along the way, I spotted a very small well-worn store front with this sign written in Italian attributed to Oscar Wilde. If you tried to look into the store you couldn’t see inside but I was curious so, I pressed my camera’s lens onto the window and took a flash photo. What you see below what was revealed inside.

When I asked a woman to translate the sign to English for me, this is what she said: “In life, what is worth knowing cannot be taught in school.” Oscar Wilde Be well!

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