The IDEA Blog

Julian Bond: A Giant of Justice

Dear Friends,
 
As you may or may not have recently heard, yet another tall and strong tree has fallen in our civil and human rights forest, Mr. Julian Bond. We here at IDEA are sending our condolences to his immediate family, friends and to his brothers and sisters in struggle. Mr. Bond was an outstanding example of how one should live their life in service and in the unabashed pursuit of justice.
 
 
Julian Bond was an activist, father, grandfather, lawyer, leader, mentor and man of service. In watching him and learning about him from his peers as well as the history books it is clear to me what his greatest example ever was. It is an example of understanding victory and committing and recommitting one's mind, soul and one's body to the struggle for true and everlasting Freedom.
 
Mr. Bond was A SNCC man, a person who was able to harness his energy toward righteous causes in his youth in such a way that it propelled him forward in the pursuit of a more perfect world for the rest of his life. For every victory he was a part of orchestrating he also understood that the victory was not the end, it was only the beginning of the next round of the fight. 50 years after one the most sweeping and assured allowances for minority political participation, which he played a big role in securing, we find ourselves in a country that has begun a backward lurch as proven by the gutting of those rights and continued state-by-state efforts to further rescind those rights in the most insane ways. Education, one of the issues that Julian Bond fought so hard for, as well as housing rights and the elimination of poverty, racism and hate are still some of the playgrounds where the rules still aren't fair or just.
 
The massive amount of blood of Black bodies of all identities spilled in American streets at the hands of law enforcement today by bullets and batons mirrors exactly the same flow of Black blood spilled 50 years ago by bullets and batons. It is our new...

Read full article

Posted on Aug 19, 2015 - 01:39 PM by Albert Sykes

Sometimes the Smallest School Can Make the Hugest Difference in the Lives of Students

Sometimes the Smallest School Can Make the Hugest Difference in the Lives of Students

Far too often, many of us are caught in the belief that what makes a service or program valuable is if it serves a vast amount of people. That right there may be one of the leading symptoms of why our education system at large is continually offering low quality services to so many young people around America. We resist placing value on what serves individuals, and instead seek to solve the question: "How can we deliver quality to everyone in one fell swoop?"

Meaningful, quality education takes many forms across a broad spectrum of formats - it has to in order to provide exceptional learning experiences for the wildly diverse amount of personalities, backgrounds, and psychologies of America's youth. Small alternative high schools like North Hills Prep are able to specialize and cater to a demographic of young people who need something more specific than a one-size-fits-all learning approach that many public schools espouse.

What I loved most about North Hills was that I didn't feel like as much of an outsider as I had at my former schools. I was around other teens who could relate to me. We swapped psych ward anecdotes and compared medications. We discussed each other's scars, both inside and out. We knew that each of us was at North Hills for a reason, and those reasons pulled us together against the rest of the world.

There are students who suffer much more than they have to because their personal and educational needs aren't being met at traditional high schools. They need to be in an environment that will help them feel safe and recover.

Alana Saltz, former student at North Hills Prep

Check out Alana's original post on Huff Post Education titled, How an Alternative High School Saved My Life - it's a strong example of what education can and sometimes should look like. Do you have other examples? Share them in the comments below.

Read full article

Posted on Jul 01, 2015 - 07:27 AM by Shawn Strader

We who believe in Freedom Cannot Rest… there is still work to be done

We who believe in Freedom Cannot Rest… there is still work to be done

Last week I was asked to help with a Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School site visit in Neshoba County, MS. For those of you who don’t know the significance of freedom schooling and how it relates to democratic education, I hope you take a few minutes to read this. Just last summer, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer, also known as the Mississippi Summer Project.  That summer of action fifty years ago was coordinated by the the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) which is made up of Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the NAACP and SCLC to focus on increasing voter registration and establish Freedom Schools. Black Mississippians and over 1,000 volunteers from out of state (predominantly white), participated. They were harassed, beaten, and some even killed.

Today’s CDF Freedom Schools are named after the Freedom Schools of 1964, and serve a similar purpose: “empowering children and preparing them to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today.” (1) CDF does this through their Integrated Reading Curriculum comprised of conflict resolution and cooperative group activities associated with real life and culturally relevant literature. While being involved with CDF Freedom Schools since 2004, coming to visit Neshoba County today has brought everything in my life over the past 11 years full circle.

40 Freedom Schools (some sources say 50) emerged “with the goal to empower African Americans in Mississippi to become active citizens and agents of social change.” (2) On June 21, 1964, almost 51 years to date, three men, James Chaney, Andy Goodman, and Michael Schwerner went missing after they visited a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi. They were going to visit a church that was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan because it was going to be used as a Freedom School.(3) Hate crimes were not unheard of during this time.

Shortly after arriving to...

Read full article

Posted on Jun 25, 2015 - 10:30 AM by Crystal Mattison

Reflections: A Spring Type of Love

Reflections: A Spring Type of Love

Spring has fully sprung in certain areas of the country. Despite the pollen, this is definitely one of my favorite seasons. One of the seasons I absolutely L-O-V-E. The type of love you feel in February as some of us celebrate Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. The type of love you feel when you know you are making a difference in your community or in someone’s life.

 
With all that is going on across the country and world, I reflect on the bright spots, the hard work that folks are doing on the ground, and how we can better connect and share the brightness from city to city, state to state, and eventually country to country.

Below are some of my reflections on changework in Oregon from February. Although the sun didn’t shine, it was cold and rainy, the brightness of the people and organizations we worked with shined through.

~ Crystal Mattison, Director of Changework at IDEA
 

ON THE IDEA BLOG

...

February Reflections from an Oregon Learning Tour

IDEA teamed up with the Heart of Oregon Corps and Two Sisters School District in February to do a mini-Learning-Tour in the state of Oregon. The purpose of the tour was to learn more about democratic educational practices within the state while also figuring out how the school district and community organization can come together to develop a dynamic program for their youth.

Read full article

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 - 12:19 PM by Shawn Strader

February Reflections from an Oregon Learning Tour

                

Spring has fully sprung in certain areas of the country. Despite the pollen, this is definitely one of my favorite seasons. One of the seasons I absolutely L-O-V-E. The type of love you feel in February as some of us celebrate Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. The type of love you feel when you know you are making a difference in your community or in someone’s life. With all that is going on across the country and world, I reflect on the bright spots, the hard work that folks are doing on the ground, and how we can better connect and share the brightness from city to city, state to state, and eventually country to country.

The bright spot I would like to highlight here is Oregon. Although the sun didn’t shine, it was cold and rainy, the brightness of the people and organizations we worked with shined through. In February, IDEA teamed up with the Heart of Oregon Corps and Two Sisters School District to do a mini-tour in the state of Oregon. The purpose of the tour was to learn more about democratic educational practices within the state while also figuring out how the school district and community organization can come together to develop a dynamic program for their youth. The tour participants were from the Heart of Oregon and Two Sisters Schools and included teachers, administrators, and community educators. Over the course of the two days, we visited four locations that practiced democratic education in many different ways: Kalapuya Alternative High School, the Academy of Arts and Academics, the Early College & Career Options at Lane Community College, and Trillium Charter School. For each site there was a specific component that we focused on. We were able to learn and have facilitated conversations about proficiency and project based learning, portfolio assessment, program design, contextual learning, constructivism, democratic education, and presentations of learning.

There was a lot of conversation, a lot of learning, a...

Read full article

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 - 10:24 AM by Crystal Mattison

Learning about Democratic Education from Colombia

Last month the New York Times published an op-ed from David Kirp that opened many people's eyes to one of the most comprehensive examples of democratic education anywhere in the world: the Escuela Nueva model in Colombia. Across Colombia, 20,000 schools have been influenced by the model, which features project-based learning, parent and community engagement, learning by doing and according to student interests, and democratic decision-making. As Kirp describes:

Rather than being run as a mini-dictatorship, with the principal as its unquestioned leader, the school operates as a self-governing community, where teachers, parents and students have a real say in how it is run.

I wrote a Letter to the Editor with a few comments in reply, and while it was not published, we're including it here on the IDEA Blog:

Those working for educational change in the United States could learn a great deal from Escuela Nueva in Colombia. Instead of creating ever more tests with high-stakes results, blaming the teachers or students, or looking to a new common curriculum to solve our problems, Escuela Nueva shows what is possible when schools are guided by what we know about how children learn and by the values and practices of democracy. In practice this looks like collaborative and hands-on learning, student work that's connected to the issues of the community, and shared decision-making that engages teachers, students, and parents. 

While Kirp may be right that schools like this are not currently the mainstream in the U.S., such schools can be found flourishing across the nation, from Mission Hill School in Boston to Jefferson County Open School in the suburbs of Denver to Minnesota New Country School in rural Minnesota, as well as networks of schools such as the New York Performance Standards Consortium, Big Picture Schools, and EdVisions Schools.

The most powerful lesson to learn from Escuela Nueva's work is that this approach to education is especially successful for...

Read full article

Posted on Mar 27, 2015 - 06:27 AM by Dana Bennis

Share Your Change Story

Share Your Change Story

 
At IDEA, we've made a habit of sharing stories. We want to track and learn from what's happening on the ground. Story Journals help us accomplish that goal by offering a place for you to describe what you’re seeing and learning.

Is something changing in your school? Is the conversation starting to shift? Have you been part of a powerful change effort in your community?
 
We invite you to Share Your Change Story now and anytime you see actions and changes that should be shared. The stories become part of Learning Reportsblogs, and our online library of resources.
 
No need for lengthy polished writing - short sentences and bullet-points are just fine. Without a doubt the work you're doing is important. We'd love to know more about it and share it with others.
 

ON THE IDEA BLOG

Shifting the Paradigm at Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

 
 
Rachel Mason, a teacher at Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII), shares ways she understands PSII has succeeded in moving towards a paradigm shift in education.

"We are still inventing and creating every day."
 
...

Read full article

Posted on Mar 04, 2015 - 12:11 PM by Shawn Strader

Shifting the Paradigm at Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

This is a guest post by Rachel Mason. Rachel lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She is interested in progressive education, youth voice, systems change, and social justice. She has worked as a teacher, youth worker, facilitator, project manager, and curriculum developer in a variety of settings. She currently works as a teacher at Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII) and as owner of Arrive Consulting, and is a parent of three young children. For more on PSII from Rachel, read about PSII's philosophy and opening days here.You can contact Rachel at rachelemason@gmail.com.

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.”
― John Dewey, Experience and Education  (1938)
 
A year and a half ago I joined a team of people starting a new school in Victoria, British Columbia. Our school, Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII), is modeled on a philosophy that places the learner at the centre of their own education. What this means is that our learners work with teachers to co-create a curriculum based on their own questions and interests. It also means that we see education as being about the development of the whole person, both within and outside the school, and not just about academic learning that happens at school.
 
In the early days of opening our school, every day felt like an adrenaline high, a ride on a gut-wrenching roller-coaster. We had to invent a new process for teaching and learning, how we organize our school, how we relate and interact with learners, how we do assessment and reporting. Every decision brought up questions about our philosophy of education and our personal values.
 
A year and a half later we are still inventing and creating every day. There are many details we have not yet worked out, and we are constantly thinking about how we can put into practice the approach to learning that we envision. However, we do have some processes established and some experience...

Read full article

Posted on Feb 24, 2015 - 09:35 AM by Shawn Strader

At the Core of Every Move We Make

At the Core of Every Move We Make

As we push through what is hopefully the final stretch of winter (hang in there New England!), we're tilting even further toward new beginnings, projects, plans, and great work that's already taking place. We're thankful for everyone who was able to donate over the holidays. We're grateful for the ongoing work to influence positive change around the world. And without a doubt, we're ready for an incredible year of progress and change in education.

As we gear up for some seriously effective changework, we're paying attention to our values and intentionality. These values are at the core of every move we make. If you haven't read through them before, please take some time to. We're eager for what's coming and hope you are too.
 

ON THE IDEA BLOG

IDEC 2015 is Right Around the Corner


The International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) is coming to New Zealand April 9-12, 2015. Register online (www.idec2015.org) before the end of February and be entered in a drawing to win a free adult ticket!

Engage in a multitude of hands-on and heartfelt approaches to explore questions like How do we want to learn and teach in the future?, How can we work together to provide learning experiences that support resilient community development and true democratic values? in an environment of trust, equality and enjoyment.

San Francisco USD is Hiring More Black...

Read full article

Posted on Feb 18, 2015 - 01:20 PM by Shawn Strader

IDEC 2015 is Right Around the Corner in New Zealand

The International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) is coming to New Zealand April 9-12, 2015. Register online (www.idec2015.org) before the end of February and be entered in a drawing to win a FREE ADULT TICKET! 

This 4-day open-space hui (conference, meeting) is based around the experience of interactive natural ways of learning. Engage in a multitude of hands-on and heartfelt approaches to explore questions like How do we want to learn and teach in the future?, How can we work together to provide learning experiences that support resilient community development and true democratic values? in an environment of trust, equality and enjoyment.

Read full article

Posted on Feb 17, 2015 - 09:18 AM by Shawn Strader

Page 1 of 48 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »