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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 4.19.2024


“Are you with me now” A J Ryder


It Might As Well Be Spring – Signature song of Sarah Vaughn


This past week a BPL team consisting of Carlos, Andrew, Karla, Chris, Sonn, Anthonette, David and I were at ASU GSV. It goes without saying that we had an expansive presence at this conference in lots of ways. Things started off at my home on Sunday evening where there were over 40 guests from all over the US. It feels so different to start a conference at a home. There is no comparing environments for mingling in a relaxing way. I’m always glad when we start things out this way.


Most of us had sessions at the conference. Mine was a conversation with Jean Eddy moderated by Michael Horn. From the feedback, people got their eyes opened wide when we discussed the connections between the issues schools are facing around mental health and absenteeism. I connected improved mental health and decreasing absenteeism to students doing work both in and out of school that is meaningful to them with adults and peers they want to do that work with. Surprisingly, very few if any policymakers or practitioners think that way and it shows. There was lots of follow-ups from people in the audience on this and other issues that were raised leading to many 1:1 meetings.



Because of the numbers of people at ASU GSV, a big part of this conference are these 1:1 meetings, some intentional and some serendipitous. I had meetings with Bob Hughes, Executive Director of the Gates Foundation, Gerald Chertavian, Founder of Year Up, Carlos Santini Executive Director of Mizzen and many others discussing both the IBPLC and B-U where I got great tips on next steps and in some cases ways to partner.



“Learning from the influences of her influences” Cecile McLoren Salvant


When DMC made a surprise guest appearance at Leadership Journeys, he told a story about the disconnect between the new generation of Hip-Hop artists and the artists that came before them. What he said resonated with me in two ways. First, in jazz there is a deep respect for the elders. Through their music there is much ‘Conversation with the Elders’ in deference to what came before and influencing what goes forward. The other part for me was feeling the same is true in education. There is a disconnect from the past. Is what DMC referred to a generational phenomenon? Intentional? Not intentional? Who knows? To his way of thinking and mine as well, this is something new. It didn’t happen a generation ago in either space.


One final thought on another great Leadership Journey


It was either 1970 or 1971 when some of us went to a Funkadelic concert. Afterwards, there was this review about how the mainstream world was ready for one Jimi Hendrix on the stage but they weren’t ready yet for ten. This is one of the powers of Leadership Journeys. World get ready.



ASU GSV Tour of the San Diego Met and the 20th Anniversary


On Monday a bus load of ASU GSV attendees did a school tour to the San Diego Met. Once again, our students and staff were great. I invited San Diego Board member Richard Barrera to speak to this group. Twenty years ago, Richard was President of the Board that voted to start the Met. In his talk he mentioned his son went to the Met, graduated, went to Stanford and graduated there. The kicker was that the internship he had at the SD Met is the place he is presently working. The other thing to note from his brief talk was how much one little school influenced the entire district. The next day, there was a 20th Anniversary celebration of the school. Once again Richard was there and once again the students ran the show. Next steps are to figure out how to have even more influence.

I’m not sure I get why so many people want learning to be accelerated and made more efficient. There are all sorts of tricks at play in AI educational arena and all sorts of givens about what we must learn, when and how fast that should happen. That said, at the ASU GSV conference the theme was the AI Revolution. From my perspective, themes like this always hoist up the equity flag saying that AI can level the playing field especially, around literacy and numeracy and it can also eliminate jobs that are tedious and dangerous and create new ones. I feel very differently about this because just like with any advancements using digital technologies there have been big winners and lots of people left out. What I’m really interested in is how young people with time on their hands are going to use AI technologies in creative ways. Just like anything else the arts birth the sciences.


Here's a few thoughts to align with AI:


·       Slowness is fundamental to quality


·       For those who strive for efficient ways to learn and believe or want learning to be accelerated, here’s some advice from what appears to be a simple broth and noodle maker:


“Ramen is mainly about broth; udon and tsukemen are all about noodles” Lim said. “I should know, because it took me tedious years to learn how to make them.” Justin Lim



·       “I took a speed-reading course last week and read War and Peace in two hours. It’s about Russia.”



·       “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”  Mae West school leaver of Erasmus Hall, my high school


Aside from all of the goings on at ASU GSV, I had my first meeting with a group of six principals from Winnipeg exploring BPL. These are principals from new middle schools and large comprehensive high schools. Sonn and I already met with another three principals for these on-going meetings who are becoming BPL schools. There is a real coalescence of our work in Winnipeg and I’m happy to be part of it.


Scott, Andrew Coburn and I met to review a draft of Andrew’s book. This book is about his park experience as an advisor where instead of meeting at school his advisory meets in Roger Williams Park and uses the entire park as their learning environment – museums, gardens, stables, ponds, events and more.


Final note: Just got off a call with Victoria and Jake from the Olympic Peninsula area in Washington. They said, “Thanks for your inspiration.” I said, “My aspiration is to inspire more perspiration rather than inspiration.

Next week, I'll be at the San Diego Met student marketplace checking out all their designs and having meetings in San Diego and LA.


Enjoy the weekend!

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