Issue 55

July 12, 2018

Mark Yarnell

A leader is someone who demonstrates what's possible.

Dear Leaders,

Learner-centered is a way of being—it extends into how we see children in all settings, including at home. Last month, I shared how a learner-centered parenting class made a real difference for me by showing how the concepts we find core to any learner-centered transformation—trust and co-creation with young people—can be practiced at home within my family unit.

The teacher of my parenting class, Paige Trevor, who has also become a friend, posted a wonderful message in her blog post last week, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. She talks about 3 ways we accidentally disrespect children:

  • Asking questions you know the answer to (e.g. Asking if they took a cookie out of the cupboard after you just saw them do it);
  • Being nice in ways that takes away their responsibility (e.g. giving them new clothes when they haven’t shown any capacity to take care of the ones they have); and
  • Being disappointed when kids aren’t perfect (e.g. when they talk back or have a messy room).

She also shares the antidote to these which are applicable to any setting with kids.

  • Say things like, “I saw the Oreos were all eaten, I was looking forward to sharing them. We’ll be taking a sugar break for a week.” (notice the lack of shaming in this straight forward communication)
  • Build capacity and ask for a demonstration of that capacity before more responsibility is given.
  • Be curious and ask questions rather than just be disappointed. We are all human.

After reading the blog, you can take a minute to think, when and why am I asking questions I know the answer to? Am I moving young people to the next thing before they’ve demonstrated they are ready for a new responsibility? When am I passing judgement onto my kids instead of exploring what’s going on from their perspective?

Learner-centered is a way of being. It relies on self-reflection, empathy, and a trust that we are better off solving problems together. If the learner-centered paradigm became the dominant paradigm of the next century, what might society evolve into?

As you read the 55th issue of Pioneering, discover the examples that exist today of “what could be” and a futurist piece from our friend, Katherine Prince, who explores four possibilities of what our education system could look like ten years from now.



New resources and news on The Big Idea!


We recently announced a new R&D acceleration initiative to connect and support local communities ready to bring public, equitable, learner-centered ecosystems to life.