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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 12.02.2022

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder “You can’t mandate what matters” In keeping with the BPL Leadership Conference theme of Liberatory Leadership, Below is something I wrote years ago in preparation for a Big Bang. This Edge to Center piece is timely given the news stories coming out about instituting even stricter policies around how the Common Core is implemented using an equity argument to drive of these policies through the system. The good news is that more people than ever aren’t buying the argument - Common Core Architects Still Don’t Get It. The New CTE flips to ETC - Edge to Center Education Here’s Yo-Yo Ma – “There’s a part of me that always charging ahead. I’m the curious kid, always going to the edge.”

And…. here’s our system’s version of a center Do we really want students at the center of the Bell Curve? Or, to paraphrase Jane Jacobs, do we want every student to declare their edge as the center? If you come from a long line of pool players like me, you have probably heard of a technique called edge to center. In order to make a cut shot you line up the edge of the cue ball with the edge of the ball you are going to hit. Then, you move your cue stick to the center of the cue ball and et viola! The ball goes in the pocket. This edge to the center shot is a good metaphor. Line up what students are doing at their edge and then, aim for the center. What these two edge to the center examples point to is that there are many ways to get to the center. In both cases to get there you start at the edges. And, although we talk about giving credit for student work anywhere, anytime, it is debatable (or highly unlikely) whether this really has changed or will change anything around equity by starting at the center. This is because these changes are about maintaining an assessment system of winners and losers. Unless, we credit the many ways students can demonstrate competency there is still only one way. Starting from the edge gets schools to understand the many ways students can show competence and will produce more equitable ways students can show they are smart. If we want to get our students to the center and stay learner centered, I suggest we start where they are meaningfully learning outside of school at the edges inventing, discovering, creating, understanding. They go there to keep themselves in balance and find their center. They go there because this where they are learning at the edge of their competence. It is there and then, our work as adults is to be with, guide, manage, facilitate, enrich and instruct. Finally, remember when the edge becomes the center, we start Centers for the Edge and in doing so we lose our edge. In the words of my friend Mark Mitton: “Beware when ambiguity is reduced to certainty and the physical is reduced to mental.” Although formal policy statements are significant ways to produce certainty, we should not overlook how the culture and regularities of schools and schooling build into calcified systems and structures.

Last week, Pam Roy sent me over this documentary made by Jonah Hill about Stutz, his therapist. There’s some great scenes.

Stutz uses imagery by handing his patients hand—drawn cards like the one below. Most of his cards are way less wordy but I’m presenting this one because you can see the connection of his work to BPLiving, B-U and BPL. Last week, David Berg getting ready for the Leadership Conference.


Don't fret that was last week. This week, David has it altogether. I could even download the conference app.. Just one more thing – I was sent this Academy Award winning Animation from 1987 called The Man Who Planted Trees. It is a great way to get ready for the week. Hope to see you at Leadership! To those who fly close to the sun, be well!

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