Last week, I spent a day in Chicago meeting learner-centered pioneers working inside and outside the education system. I met with Matt Bruce of the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance (CWFA), Jean Garrity of LEAP Innovations, and Adrienne Scherenzel Curry of After School Matters. I also had the privilege of presenting to 40 educators and administrators from Oak Park Unified School District who are looking to pioneer learner-centered education in their elementary and middle schools.
What became clear to me is how isolated pioneers are from each other—even when they live in the same city. They are essentially hidden from each other’s view. While there are opportunities for those working in education to meet, these gatherings always draw a mix of school- and learner-centered folks. So, conversations about transforming the current system become indistinguishable from those about reforming it. And, as I’ve shared before, when this happens—real communication is lost. For example, when you hear “personalized learning,” you can’t tell who means differentiation of the same content vs. starting with the learner’s unique interests, needs, and circumstances and building a pathway from there.
It made me think: What a contribution it would be if pioneers in communities, cities, or regions could see each other, begin to share common language, and start to work together. Education Reimagined is committed to illuminating the field so that learner-centered pioneers know they are not alone and can truly relate to each other as being up to the same thing—regardless of the model they are working in or words they use. In this way, they can be in community with each other as collaborators, peers, mentors, mentees, allies, cheerleaders, and critical friends. They will know they are in good company discovering what it takes to make learner-centered education available to the learners in their community and beyond.
We imagine a day when local and regional gatherings emerge organically for those learner-centered pioneers who wouldn’t normally come together (or even know about each other). We can’t do this alone. If this is your vision too, let us know! Perhaps, together, we could illuminate and gather the pioneers in your city or region.
P.S. We hope you enjoy this issue of Pioneering. With a Q&A from Chicago City of Learning leader Sybil Madison-Boyd; reflections from our own team on XQ: The Super School Project’s big reveal (congrats to the winners!); and a piece on what the maker movement has to offer to learners across the country; this issue is packed with powerful stories, learnings, and insights. Enjoy!