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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 9.30.2022

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

That’s right, 92-year-old self-made billionaire Warren Buffet said that “the amount you are loved — not your wealth or accomplishments — is the ultimate measure of success in life. Part of me thinks that coming from a 92-year-old billionaire that might be an easier statement to make than for many of us. Many times, in these situations, my MUSE Mae West is my countervailing force. In the case of made for love she states, “Love conquers all things but poverty and a toothache,” Keeping both Warren and Mae in mind, where is the amount you are loved as a measure of success in our school measurements of students? Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting together the 10th Anniversary edition of Leaving to Learn with Charlie Mojo. One of our chapters deals with what constitutes Success? What stops us from measuring the amount you are loved? Here’s a clue.

. ...The modern mind...has yielded to the inferior magic of facts, numbers, statistics, and to that sort of empiricism which, in its passion for concreteness, paradoxically reduces experience to a purely abstract notion of measurable data, having cast aside the 'immeasurable wealth' of authentic experiences of the spirit and imagination. Eric Heller - Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at Harvard University.

“I went to the Crossroads” Robert Johnson

Every once in a while I have my conversations with the elders. This time with Robert Johnson who supposedly went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil for his musical talents. As I reflected on the statement by Eric Heller, I was reminded that it seems our system has made the deal with the devil with our over-reliance empirical data that has less and less to do with quality, meaning, compassion and success and unfortunately sustains a system that is inequitable to so many while losing sight of what constitutes success in life.

And, shades of Eric Heller and Robert Johnson. Down at the crossroads, here we go again with yet another measure. This time Weak Ties.


I have some real questions about applying the findings of the research around weak ties to our students who already have little access to adults who can get to know them and potentially make connections for them for meaningful work. I’d like to see the study breakdown on race, class, gender and not just a LinkedIn community of white-collar workers and people in the tech field. Does this research on weak ties tell schools that it is OK to continue to do what they are doing and NOT get students out to have meaningful real-world learning experiences to strengthen their ties to adults they share an interest with? I hope not. This is yet another study that may just keep policymakers from making needed changes. I can see them using this data to justify their policies of barely doing any sort of real-world learning and keeping students inside of schools. I’ll always maintain that for the vast majority of our students, “Who knows you know what you know” matters greatly and for that ties must be strong and not weak.

The Paper Ceiling “Most hiring algorithms would screen me out.”

Working Nation and the Ad Council are doing a really nice job getting the word out in the media with a campaign to remove the Paper Ceiling that prevents people from advancing because they don’t have degrees. Here we have an old issue for us – Qualified but not Certified. Until tacit knowledge is accepted and counted as a measure acknowledging you can do way more than you can say, the Paper Ceiling will remain. Once again, we cannot cast aside “the immeasurable wealth of authentic experiences.” How do we not surrender to the secrets of a yardstick?

Tips from our alums

This week I was on a call with one of our Met graduates Noam Bar-Zemer. Noam is manager of policy and strategy for Sun Power in the Northeast. He connected me to their director of training for a discussion about doing Harbor Freight type work in the solar installation industry. It was the best kind of flip/give back where our alums help and support our work and not just the other way around. In talking with Noam, he will let you know how indispensable his time at The Met was to his life in ways too numerous to get into here. But, one thing he did tell me was that he draws inspiration from is his advisor Andrew’s words, “Be there until you are useful.” This sounds like Ashley Magnus another Met alum and Harbor Freight Fellow this time from Carlos’ advisory. In Ashley’s words “Always make yourself indispensable.” These tips from alums that are easy to measure. The point is that we just don’t.

In the end, are you with a student or is a student with you? Both are student-centered. Are they both student-driven? Are we listening?

Be well!

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