Elliot Washor's TGIF 5.19.2023
“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
For the past two weeks, I’ve been getting inside of BPL by being outside the US. My time with Viv, students and staff has been great. Our sharing of common practice and language brings us all closer together as we muddle through what matters. There’s loads of great news about the wonderful students, staff and mentors I’ve met through their interests by getting out with them on their LTI’s. This week, I went to four schools in way different places from rural to urban to suburban which is not our definition of suburban. I’ve been in Brisbane, The Gold Coast, Melbourne and points in between.
“Warning: I may start talking about trains”
Years ago I was introduced to one of our students by Viv because of his enthusiasm, fascination and interest in trains. This week we met for the first time and his interest has not waned. Newly graduated Lucas is getting his Fireman’s certification (an apprentice to an Engineer) and works in the school helping to develop other student’s interests.
When I say enthusiasm I really mean it. He’s one of the most upbeat people anyone will ever meet. And because he does what he loves, why shouldn’t he be? You feel his energy immediately and it is contagious. As we were talking I found out that Lucas is planning a trip to the US to work on steam locomotives and guess what? His first stop is Durango, CO where we have a school and of course there is a train to catch.
As I spoke to Lucas, I was reminded about how he and others of his ilk animate inanimate objects like trains. They give them names and pronouns because of each one’s quirks and personalities. I’ve done similar things myself but lately, I can’t remember ever doing that to a computer or a phone. I wonder why? I guess planes, trains and automobiles that you can fix, feel and get inside ‘the guts’ of give us reason to animate inanimate objects and make them part of our lives.
Another student I met was Molly, an Aboriginal woman. Molly was our keynote speaker and has a business on the internet selling her incredible art. Molly wants to become a teacher at a BPL school. In her talk she questioned why she has to take teaching courses that are not at all aligned with the BPL school design only to get a teaching certification to teach in a BPL school. Molly’s right. This is the nuttiness of our system. It is time to start our own teacher training program.
At talks and wherever I go, I get these questions: What if you don’t have any interests? How do you find them? Both good questions that have easy answers but for many it is the other way around. How does the system stop you from developing your interests? Given the number of young people stifled by our system because they are not allowed to develop their interests, this question becomes just as important. In an article in an Australian paper yesterday Senior, Ashley Beeby who has a very high ATAR score decided to be a mechanic instead of going into law or medicine. Here’s what she stated:
“Smarts are valuable in all industries and at every level, but no measure of performance should ever overrule passion or interest. The purpose of education is to get us into careers we can enjoy and thrive in, not to let ATAR results dictate or overrule those pathways. Becoming a heavy-vehicle mechanic against society’s expectations was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
Finally, there’s the Kookaburra. Many of you know, I love birds, mostly hawks but this subspecies of Kingfishers are definitely, the funniest and friendliest birds I’ve ever come across in the wild. Their laugh and how they play with you make you laugh.
Next week, Viv and I will be meeting with some world class influencers in education around the IBPLC and have calls set up with ASU.