Last week, we had the incredible privilege of spending two days in Houston with 56 learner-centered pioneers at our second Pioneer Lab gathering. During our time together, we focused on what it will take to build a community that has the capacity to welcome and include thousands of pioneers (if not tens or hundreds of thousands) as this movement grows.
With this focus, we wanted to show how the Lab is so much bigger than a place for participants to learn, share, and collaborate for the benefit of advancing the work in their local communities. It is a place where pioneers come together to build a community committed to making learner-centered education available to every community across the nation, evolve shared visions of high-quality education, push each other beyond what we currently see as “possible,” and truly design the systems of the future.
Clearly, this is no easy task. And, we are grateful for the partnership with Lab participants and their respective environments to accomplish these goals. We are also relieved to have discovered so many passionate leaders willing to co-create the spaces, systems, and protocols that could welcome ever growing numbers of pioneers without our having to do so single-handedly.
At the Lab meeting, Allan Cohen, one of the Lab leaders, did a session on emergence—how to shift our view of change from a mechanistic view to an emergent one. What struck me about Allan’s presentation was the second challenge we are facing outside of shifting from the school-centered paradigm to a learner-centered one.
We need to shift away from the mindset of creating top-down, centrally controlled systems and shift into emergent, bottom-up, top-enabled strategies. Luckily, these strategies are not too complex, but they are radically different than the ways we usually think of accelerating a movement and having a national impact. This topic is so important, I’ll be expanding on the concept of emergence in a future article.
In the meantime, enjoy this fantastic issue of Pioneering highlighting Innovations Early College High School and its founder and principal, Dr. Kenneth Grover. Only in its fourth year, this environment is already a leader in the field. Innovations’ focus on the learner’s interests and their innate state of being as unique, capable and curious drives the design of IECHS’s model.