“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
As anyone who knows me knows, I’m not a large group meeting person but this week has been one of the best weeks I’ve ever had at policy meetings large and small. On Sunday I met with Pradeep Khosla, the Chancellor of UCSD and BPL board member Gary Kraut for 2 ½ hours. Our discussion ranged from the UCSD Extension program a la B-U/ImBlaze and BPLiving to the International Big Picture Learning Credential. He saw value in all of our New Forms, New Measures. His response, “Why didn’t I know about these sooner?” Then, on Tuesday at a meeting around internship development for all of Los Angeles. Andrea and I teamed up and had loads of practical advice to add to the discussion. From this meeting, it appears that initially, most of the internships will be after school and in the summer (B-U). Once again, state and district policies will have to change to get more students out during the school day. One such policy is to elevate internships to the status of AP classes.
Yesterday, I was at the 311 Credential
awards ceremony in Newark with Eunice. There were around 50 people there honoring the 13 students who went through this ground-breaking program over the summer. Roger Leon, the Superintendent of Schools, spoke for 15 minutes. He loved the program and added his big idea of utilizing all of his school staff including educators, skilled trades, service, etc. as mentors for internships. And then he added that upon completing certifications and high school, he would sign a contract to hire each of them when they completed their apprenticeships or received their college degree in teaching, social work…. I hope he can pull this off. In addition, Rob Smith, the head of the Carpenters Union in the Northeast was present. He already set up a meeting for next week to take the 311 to other places in the Northeast and beyond. When the union gets behind an initiative, they can work wonders. The “cast of thousands” continued with lots of politicians including Assemblyperson Eliana Pintor Marin who gave a great talk. And then, the Director of Workforce Development, Karen Gaylord who put the funds up for this work along with loads of big and small building contractors like Turner, Holt, McGinley, Interstate and Orion. As simple as it sounds, youth under 18 and without GED or H.S. diplomas were not allowed on site and could not enter into pre-apprenticeship programs. Now with the 311 they can. This is something that is hopefully going to spread. Everyone is bought in. This is in-large part because of what we knew all along about the combination of student interest and the adult-youth relationships around meaningful work. It is magical. Much thanks to Joe Youcha. He made it happen and to my compadre Charlie. If I ever experienced collective effervescence from a diverse group this was it. And, the best part was that it was not a BPL event but an event where everyone praised BPL.
After this meeting I was on a call with Viv, Sandra Millgan, our partner on the IBPLC from the University of Melbourne and Bo Stjerne Thomsen from LEGO. We discussed lots of issues around assessment and how BP Australia’s leading-edge work is adding lots of value to thinking differently about assessment and changing the field in practical ways. It was great to give Bo this update because he is in lots of big-time assessment conversations. Bo sees the need for assessments to change both in and outside of school.
“If. I don’t do it, somebody else will.” Dr John from Such a Night
I always said that gangs understand the value of interest and relationships better than schools and to prove the point in a very sad and nefarious way this week a guidance counselor at Boston English High School was convicted of recruiting students to become drug dealers for the Latin Kings while he was in his office. Think about that one. What schools don’t do around real-world learning; gangs are doing inside of schools. If this isn’t a wakeup call, what is?
"Younger people aren't quick to work because they want meaningful work," Mackey told Reason Magazine. "You can't expect to start with meaningful work. You're going to have to earn it over time."
This is from the former CEO of Whole Foods. Like many others of his ilk, he has loads to say but it also appears he has loads to learn about life and work. Perhaps he just assumes and/or wants everyone who works for him to just be in a drone phase of life waiting for meaningful work to come knocking at their door. What can people like him do about creating work that is meaningful? Lots. They can create a workplace where work takes on meaning through a great community and providing opportunities. And, who is he or anyone to make a statement like this that you shouldn’t want your work to always be meaningful to you? Unbelievable
“Create your own system. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! Keep breaking traditions. I beg you.” Stanislavski
This quote comes from the review of a new book, Shape Shifters about the different schools of acting emanating from Konstantin Stanislavski, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. For me, the parallels here to any field, practice or creative process are obvious. Unfortunately, schools have varied little in their approaches and are having fights akin to which end of the egg is best to crack to open it. In a few weeks, we will be meeting as an entire BPL organization in Providence. Our design, distinguishers, methods… have evolved over many years. That said, I’m all for “breaking traditions,” even our own. At this point on my own timeline that is what I look forward to seeing and supporting most.
“Learn the rules as a pro so you can break them like an artist.” Picasso