“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
We Met in the Park –
Even in the midst of the challenges posed by COVID, Andrew Coburn's commitment to conducting his advisory in the park has endured. As someone who cherishes moments spent in natural surroundings, I immediately appreciated the brilliance of his Advisory in the Park concept. It left me pondering why more advisors don't embrace such an approach and why schools often limit park visits to occasional day trips.
Over the years, I had the privilege of joining Andrew and his advisory in the park, becoming a part of their unique outdoor learning experiences. During my recent visit to Providence, Andrew shared a draft of his book, "We Met in the Park," with me. I'm currently halfway through, and it's proving to be an inspiring and candid exploration of the profound learning that occurs within the context of an advisory spending extensive time in a park. I am committed to supporting Andrew in any way I can to ensure this valuable perspective reaches a wider audience.
A central theme of the book traces the highs and lows of a four-year journey with students in an advisory, a remarkable feat in itself. What sets it apart is the significant role played by the park environment in shaping these experiences. As I find myself on Kauai with Kapua, I couldn't help but share Andrew's book with her. We both recognized its resonance with the vision for Namahana students, who will similarly engage in community-based activities, mirroring the endeavors of Andrew's advisory. Both initiatives share a commitment to providing students with a holistic education, integrating culture, science, and arts seamlessly in an outdoor, en plein air setting—a term I've often used to describe this immersive learning environment.
Elliot Washor is a longtime voice for ideas about a different, more hands on, way to do schooling. Learning To Leave, which (I assume) is a play on the classic British sociological work Learning to Labor follows their previous Leaving to Learn, Elliot Washor and Scott Boldt profile schools offering students a radically different learning experience. These ideas only work in a system of choice, which is the irony of the education conversation today. The anti-testing people are also generally the anti-choice people all the while claiming to be against “one size fits all.” It’s why voices like Washor are so important.
Bellwether “envisions a future where all young people have access to an equitable and excellent education, and live lives filled with opportunity. We envision an education system that is effective, equitable, and responsive.” When Andrew and I get together we always have great conversations about the future. He comes from the policy side and I come from the practical. I’m hoping we meet early in the year.
“Great work requires a lot of work” – David Krakauer – President of the Santa Fe Institute
David Gersten sent me this amazing documentary on the Santa Fe Institute. This is a place where groups of some greatest scientists, cultural icons and artists are in residence to work with one another on complexity and move away from specialization. This kind of work brings all sorts of cultures, disciplines and understandings together to understandings around an integrated whole. It is the Big Picture and what we do. That said, at times it has very difficult for our board and educators to understand. They always ask why do you do this and that? And why don’t you focus? Well, the focus is on the Big Picture. One of the many funny stories from the documentary is that the Santa Fe institute uses 3M’s. They are not Mingling, Muddling and Mattering but Mountain, Monastery and Metropolis.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. W. B. Yeats
What Color Do You See? The moral imperative to learn from diverse phenomenal experiences by Gary Lupyon is an essay on how we all see the world differently. Some people cannot develop mental imagery – aphantasia and some have no inner speech - anendophaisa. Still others have different percentages of their mental imagery and inner speech capacities. All of this changes how we have different experiences coming out of the same event and use language to describe what we see and feel. This leads to telling different stories of who we are and who we see others as. At this point in time, we have no true scientific measures to understand what a person feels so self-assessment and reporting eclipses objective measurement. What does this mean for our work?
Happy Holidays to all! Joy!