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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 5.5.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

I’m so glad parents presented at the BPL Board meeting. When we first started The Met, “We enroll families” was one of our main mantras. Zelayne Walker-Cabral whom I miss dearly came up with the saying and she always reminded everyone of its importance. At this BPL board meeting, there were five parents of Met students including me, who were present. Two of those parents were students at The Met themselves. All of them spoke about how their children had the opportunity to pursue their interests in the world outside of school and that they had the opportunity to learn how to turn that interest into a business. Below is a photo of Andrew with his advisee Alberto Maldonado and his daughter Adrianna, who now goes to The Met. We know many schools have multi-generational stories but the stories would not ring true about generation after generation where the student is the curriculum and the entire community is the school. A school where students follow their interests and do things that are meaningful and that matter to them in the present for the future with parents involved in their learning journey. This is a legacy story and one that we were aiming for in our vision for starting BPL and The Met from the get go. It is no longer a vision but a reality.

Edge and End is a wood craft shop in Providence that I visited before the BPL Board meeting. I met with the owner Aaron Gutin about how he got started and why he takes students from The Met into his shop. At Edge to End, craftspeople produce customized wooden furniture. Below is one of our students working on an American Black Walnut table.

Aaron was not trained as a woodworker and

has a degree in history. He picked up woodworking skills because of his interests in owning a business and doing things he likes doing i.e. helping people and making things.

About 25 minutes from the mill, he has a farm in RI where he grows wheat and his wife rehabs mistreated race horses. My guess is that there are loads of people out there working in similar ways to Aaron and his family. It is a way of living that has been part of the fabric of America that we tend to overlook. Perhaps now there are more and more people moving in that direction. Next year, we will be having Harbor Freight Fellows at Edge and End.

At our BPL Staff meeting, Pam Gordon, Jennifer Ghidu and Andrew Frishman presented research conducted by third party researchers from Boston College about our Learning Through Internship (LTI) work. I hear these findings connect really well to research that has already been done on us. More to come.

You can’t judge a fish by lookin’ in the pond,

You can’t judge a right from lookin’ at the wrong

You can’t judge one by lookin’ at the other

You can’t judge a book lookin’ at the cover

Bo Diddley

Wayback when, Bo Diddley had a point about judging a book by its cover but now more than ever before books have become something to display and not to read. Case in point, people now buy books by the yard and many of these books are just the bindings with nothing inside of them. This sounds nuts to me but I’ve seen it in more and more homes. People want to look smart so they scatter books or just their covers around their homes and on bookshelves. Where does this come from? Some might say everything anyone wants to read is on Kindle but that doesn’t account for this behavior. Others might argue they are watching movies instead of reading but that doesn’t do it either. Could it be that a large part of the problem is once again our education system that treats literacy and numeracy as a check the box? Yes, you can read but do you? We don’t assess that. Schools have done a good job with illiteracy but aliteracy - the quality of being able to read but you don't runs rampant. Anyone for books without pages?

“Retire to What?” Duke Ellington

At both the BPL dinner and BPL Bd meeting we celebrated Dennis’ “retirement” that he calls leaving. There were lots of great stories about Dennis from people in his past like Howard Fuller and Rabbi Irwin Kula. As he leaves Big Picture Learning, The Met and as President of College Unbound (CU), he is devoting full-time to spreading CU where I guess, we’ll now have to write another chapter in Learning to Leave as he figures out what learning to leave means in a very different way. Much love coming at ya’

We are gearing up for BPLiving Day with Dr. Marsha-Gail Davis our newest BPL board member. Andrew and Carlos asking Dr. Marsha-Gail Davis to be on the BPL board is one more step for us in emphasizing the importance of healthy lifestyles. Just today an article came out in the NY Times about the addictiveness of processed and ultra-processed foods with grave consequences to both our mental and physical health. The study shows the impact of these ‘foods’ loaded with chemicals, sugars, fats and salts causing anxiety and depression. Why don’t we work on changing what we eat to prevent and mitigate these conditions? Tune in to BPLiving for yourself, your family and your students,

After the board meeting, Andrew and I met Pam Gordon at an Apprentice Learning gala and there was yet another BPL sighting.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Be well!

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