Issue 51

March 2, 2018

George Bernard Shaw

You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’

Dear Pioneers,

We have been incredibly saddened by the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. As the 97th mass shooting in the past 36 years, this isn’t the first moment a group of young people have made the courageous attempt to be heard. However, in this particular moment, there seems to be an unexpected power rising out of the MSDHS learners and others from across the country who have collectively found a way to be heard far and wide. We are inspired by the support and amplification these young people have received from their communities and each other. We stand with the young people who are exemplifying amazing leadership across the country—in this area and others—and who know they have the power to make a difference.

For the last century, we, as a society, have subscribed to the belief that adolescence is a time to prepare for life (a.k.a. adulthood). Acting accordingly, we created a new normal where we tucked kids away in middle and high schools, leaving them unexposed to any of the opportunities and experiences we aim to prepare them for. Rather than engage them in the realities of work, citizenship, and healing our communities, we say “you’re not old enough yet.”

What these kids from MSDHS are showing the world (again) is that young people are living life now. They are not preparing for some future moment when the “real-world” becomes their world. They have something to say now that can make something happen tomorrow.

It has always been our wish for all young people to know they matter, their voices matter, and that they have the power to change the world. Living into this innate sense of self allows our youth to believe and own their ability to make the impossible possible.

In this issue, we have great stories about places committed to this very idea—empowering learner voice. Discover how learner voice is being amplified at Minnesota New Country School. Then, hear from an Iowa BIG learner who found his voice thanks to his mother’s guidance. Finally, I strongly encourage you to read The Self-Driven Child, a book that was just published in February but is already influencing our work.

With peace in our hearts,


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