Voyager March & April 2022

April 27, 2022

Marian Wright Edelman
Founder and president emerita of the Children's Defense Fund

You can’t be what you can’t see.

This is the last week of Education Reimagined’s Spring 2022 Learning Lab Orientation. I participated in this cohort, and it has been remarkable to spend time re-engaging with the distinctions of what makes learner-centered education both “learner-centered” and “equitable.” From each of the seven sessions, I’ve emerged with new insights and discoveries about how unconstrained learner-centered education can look, sound, and feel. 

The purpose of the Learning Lab Orientation is to support learner-centered leaders to develop insight into the learner-centered worldview and gain facility with a shared learner-centered language that will enable effective collaboration across sector and community. While this is core to my day to day work at Education Reimagined, participating in the Orientation this time, what really struck me at a whole new level was how while each of the five elements are incredibly distinct, what makes for the fullest expression of an element is the existence of and interconnectedness with the other four elements.

As we delved into each element through the sessions and considered different learning scenarios, we consistently saw that each element was very nascent in its expression until all five elements were present. Once all of the five elements were present in an environment,  it was a quantum leap in how powerful the learning experiences could be for children and youth. 

For example, open-walled by itself can look like a one-off field trip. But, if you add learner agency, the learners have some say in where they are going. If you then add personalized, relevant, and contextualized, each child is going to different places for different reasons to learn different things—based on their interests and goals for their learning and life. If you then add competency-based, each learner is tracking the competencies they are developing in those experiences in the community. And, finally if you add socially embedded, each learner is self-reflecting with an advisor on how that learning matters and what’s next for them; and has a community of learners to share and make sense of that learning with. 

When all five elements are present, just looking at the possibilities of open-walled learning—they are endless.

The conversations in the Learning Lab, no matter how many times I participate, broaden my perspective of what it really takes to partner with young learners and deepen my resolve to help make learner-centered experiences available to every child in the country. 

The next Learning Lab Orientation starts on June 16th. Whether you are new to Education Reimagined or have been a regular participant in our programs, please join us. I promise, you won’t regret it!



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