Issue 20

September 8, 2016

In this back-to-school issue, we visit with a school and a summer workshop that are engaging learners in inquiry and innovation.

Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe

All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.

Dear Pioneers,

Where did the summer go? Hard to believe that it is already back to school time.

Back to school is often equated with a return to learning. But, we know that learning never stops—not even for the summer months. The what, where, when, how, and with whom of learning is certainly different—but the fact that learning is happening never changes.

For some, this summer learning was intentionally cultivated and curated, like my kids’ experiences at their camp. For others, it was fully in the background—happening when they were honing their jump shot, trying to get a high score in a videogame, or figuring out how to make mac n’ cheese by themselves. It was just what they had to do to get by. Of course, not all of these learning experiences are equally preparing kids to pursue the future of their dreams. But, I would hazard a guess that some of the best learning is actually happening in the most unlikely of circumstances.

So, what if we started this school year by acknowledging the learning that happened over the summer, regardless of how it came about? By giving this learning its due, we can take a stand for valuing all learning (even when it is happening without our noticing). Imagine what could be if the entire community—parents, learners, educators, businesses, community members—was aware of and cultivated the “out-of-school” learning that is happening throughout the year.
Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves that learning is more than what happens in that one building, six hours a day, 180 days per year. And, when we do, the possibilities are limitless.

Warm wishes,
Kelly Young

P.S. Thanks to all of the amazing pioneers who contributed their stories, voices, and experiences to this issue. Read on to explore how Atlanta-based Mount Vernon Presbyterian School incorporates design thinking in all they do, learn more about what Universal Design for Learning offers your environment, and hear one of our team member’s reflections on her trip to Big Picture’s Big Bang 2016.

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