I wrote about the power of asking “who are you now?” one week ago. In the convening week my world has been somewhat tossed into upheaval as it was announced that Kieve-Wavus Education (KWE) would not launch The Bridge Year in 2014. As many of you know, I designed The Bridge Year with my wife Lisa two years ago and have built a full program with Charlie Richardson and Kieve that was ready to launch in September. To say the least this is a shock. If you would like more information on the decision, DM me on Twitter and we can set up a conversation. That said, the reasons for this decision are fluid and important from an institutional perspective. KWE is an amazing organization that has been on the forefront of many innovations while providing the core of tradition and unwavering belief in the human spirit that changes lives. Kieve in many ways is poised to evolve in incredible ways, but a boarding school was not that way in 2014. After careful consideration of the whole organizational landscape, the pioneers who had applied were called and the school and extensive community partnerships started where put on hold. KWE has asked that I remain with the organization as the director of educational innovation and research to provide insight and start a deliberative process about where the organization can best support the world of education on the frontier of experiential and scholastic learning. I accepted that challenge.
So, who am I now?
I am deeply thankful for the network of individuals I call of mentor/colleague/friend. Rob, Shane, Grant, Peter, Josie, Bill, Matt, Scott, Shoshana, Chris, Michael, Jake, Kim, Watson, Ed, Frank, Harrison, James , Mollie Russ and most certainly Charlie and my wife Lisa. I am inspired by you all, encouraged to do the work in my heart and mind and comforted to know such people as you exist in the world.
I am sure the world and education is ready for a curricula that joins experience, scholastics and service in new ways. From May of 2013, I met with over 200 educators (headmasters, faculty, admissions and other administration, professors, technologists and beyond), parents, and young people, business and community leaders. Without reservation, they supported the vision, mission and reality that The Bridge Year represents: Interdisciplinary and student directed project based learning and field studies that focus on the self and social concerns of young people and their communities are prescient; boarding schools are poised for a renaissance, becoming the frontiers of change in global education; schools in general are on the edge of major decision making and change episodes to accommodate experiential and scholastic learning.
I am more aware, even sure of what I call the “Middle Grounds” of education.1 In the middle grounds of education today, there are worlds colliding, at confluence and intertwined with each other in very messy and potent ways. These worlds are dealing with deep seated traditions, issues of equity and most of all a liminal state of rapid change. It is the age of the deliberator. We need powerful and deep conversations that are informed by cultural relativity, futures thinking and flexibility. We need kindness, openness and integrity, forgiveness and understanding of our interdependency, interconnectedness and humanity.
I am an individual who is moved to the core by working in learning communities. From May of 2013 I had the gift of feeling serendipity in so many of your learning communities, but those visits were short and with the understanding that in a year’s time I would be launching a school. I long for the potent laughter, clumsy seriousness, commitment and burning possibility you only get from working directly with young people. I long for the erudite colleagues….directly-sharing in the dialogues, design and practice created by heart and mind daily….
I am a researcher, designer, teacher and leader who is ready for the adventure to continue.
1 I remain facinated by Richard White’s seminal ethnohistory The Middle Ground. The book is a definitive exploration of social imagination, behavioral and cultural plasticity and the possibility of human change when faced with social, environmental and economic forces beyond control. I am facinated with the possibility represented when humans meet in need. There is always a way forward that serves humanity.