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In today's conversation, Joyce Akridge is going to talk to us about how we annihilate inequities. For context, this episode was recorded on October 13th, 2021.
So let me tell you about Joyce. She has a reputation of being "a highly motivated, transformational instructional leader with a proven record of student achievement." During her 44-year tenure in the Indianapolis public schools, she demonstrated personal and professional excellence in leadership for the success of all students. She served as a lead principal and principal mentor in the Indianapolis public schools in 2015 through 2019. She was awarded the Educational Excellence Award by the Indianapolis Urban League in 2016. She was recognized by the Department of Education for her work. The school where she was a principal was given a state rating of an A for five consecutive years. Additionally, her leadership was recognized by the state of Indiana as the school received the title: One Distinguished School Award in 2014. She was also a recipient: The Governor's Award for Achievement and Civic Leadership Education in July of 2015.
Joyce was also recognized as one of three schools in the district with the largest growth in mathematics in 2013 and was highlighted in the Indianapolis Star as one of the five schools in the district that succeeded despite high levels of economic poverty in 2012. She has been featured in several publications, including the Indianapolis Star, Chalkbeat, IPS newsletters, Who's who in America and the Indianapolis women's magazine. In 2017 she received the Hubbard Life Changing Leadership Award for her dedicated service to the youth of the Indianapolis public schools.
She retired from the Indianapolis Public Schools in 2019. However, her passion for student success continued and served as a catalyst for the origin of her own coaching and consulting company that she developed with her daughter who was also an educator. The goal of their company, Urban Education Solutions, is to solve problems in education that are " uniquely urban ". She currently serves as a mentor and coach for principals, assistant principals, and instructional coaches in the Indianapolis area.
Let's hear from Joyce Akridge.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality, and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher-leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school-wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the Time for Teachership podcast. Let's dive in.
Welcome to the Time for Teachership podcast.
Thank you, I'm glad to be here.
I'm very excited that you're here. I just read your professional bio at the very start of the episode and if there's anything you want to add by way of introduction to? A lot of times bios feel very professional and there's kind of like more to us as 3-D people beyond our profession. Feel free to go ahead and share anything else that you want the listeners to know.
Well I would like the listeners to know that I just have a passion for the field of education and wanting so much for the students to be successful. I am a results-oriented person. And so I want good results for the children and as John Maxwell person, I've been to his trainings and whatnot. My goal, as it has always been, is to add value to people, whether they're young people or whether they're my colleagues or other educators,
that's just continued with me. Even though I am officially retired, I want to do that because I know that's so very important and especially in times like these.
That is beautiful. I love that I add value to people. That's so great. And speaking about all the great things that you have been doing and adding value to in terms of the educational systems that you've been part of, I think it's really important that we have these kind of big dreams around what school can be. And I love Dr. Bettina Love's work on freedom dreaming and she talks about it as "dreams grounded in the critique of injustice", which I just think it's a fabulous quote. And so keeping that quote in mind, what is the dream that you hold for the field of education?
Well, the big dream I hold is that, first of all, we do the work that we need to make things right for children. And that equity is not just something that we talk about, but it's a reality for us. And that instead of allowing others to come in and so to speak, fix us, that we have enough that we know already with the collective brains and intelligence of all of the educators that we do that ourselves.
So my big dream is that we annihilate inequities and that we embrace equity for every child in every school, both the academic equity and that social potential of every child. That's my big dream.
That is a beautiful dream. And I love that you specifically are naming social as well as academic because I think a lot of times that gets left behind in our rush to cover content or you know, get the good test scores or whatever it is that we think we're supposed to be doing in education and you know, students as we are ourselves, our whole human beings. And so I think that's so important that you emphasize that, thank you.
I think again sometimes, you know, people have that tendency to really think just about the academic piece and the academic side of things and the way we've always done things. And so I think that the dream of annihilating inequity, right, is requiring us to do things differently than they have historically been done.
And so, what are the mindset shifts or different ways of doing things or thinking about things that that either you've seen people really hold that are successful with this work or that you would tell listeners who haven't really quite started the work that mindset shift that needs to happen to be able to be successful in annihilating inequities and supporting the social development of students along with that academic piece?
Well, I would first say that, Lindsey, it's more than just a mindset shift, although that's important. But to be true workers of equity, we need to have our belief system shift because beliefs impact your actions and your behaviors. And so in order for us to annihilate an equity, we need to examine our beliefs because they influence our actions and our practices in the classroom and we need to be sure that we believe that each child is worthy of all of ourselves, all of our talent, all of our practices. They are worthy of everything that we can offer to help them to be fully educated. So that's one of the things, that's the main thing. And to me it's the whole notion of not just shifting, but transforming. And even though I've never seen the movie Transformers, I know just from having had children, although there are grown ups now, that those transformer cars, they switch into something else, it's completely different.
So what we need in order to have an equity-based education for every child is transformation. So we need to start viewing children as assets. We need to be aware of who we are so that we can then help who they are. We need to focus on equity versus equality. Those are mindsets that need to shift. We need to look at them as I said as assets versus you know, their deficit in my room and oh no, I got this child and no, here comes another one that doesn't speak english and so that's a deficit to my class and what I want to do with my class. So I want us to be very mindful of viewing children as valuable and valued and so it's a complete transformation that needs to happen. I think you said it well that we've done things historically a certain way, but that's given us the same results
we've always had. It's predictable : who's going to be successful, who's not going to be successful, which group of students are gonna meet benchmark, which groups are not. And so we need to do some things that are transformative, so that all children can meet and exceed their potential.
I love that call to not just meet but exceed the potential. That is wonderful. And I really appreciate you naming beliefs as a key piece of this. It reminds me of one of my favorite, like scholarship theories around this adaptive leadership. Scholars will say, you know, it's usually a longstanding problem. Usually at the heart of it is this underlying belief or value or loyalty and we just haven't identified it and we just haven't switched it and we're gonna keep having the problem. We could throw all the p.d. at it we want, but if we haven't identified that, believe that needs to shift that believes like you are saying that students and children and people right are valuable and worthy, then we're never gonna get anywhere with just another p.d. workshops.
You're exactly right. And that's why so many programs fail because we focus more on, I suppose the outward action that we see, but the hearts of people haven't changed. And so for a small amount of time we can see some change, but it's not gonna be lasting and sustainable because the hearts haven't changed. So in this equity work you have to come with your mind, your hands and your heart and you've got to be willing to examine your beliefs. So for any educator who started out who say, yeah, it's wrong that it's predictable that black boys and black girls and brown boys and brown girls aren't doing well in school. We see it every year. So for anyone starting with that equity work, I would say the first major piece is to examine yourself and your beliefs and then to see how that impacts your actions as you work with these children who are from historically marginalized groups.
Yeah, excellent advice. And as we move to thinking more about like what are the things that educators can do to really advance equity and justice in in the educational space? What other things would you suggest that people do? So really starting with examining themselves, and making sure that we hold those positive beliefs, right? Whereas children are bringing value, what else would would you say? Either you've seen be successful or you would encourage listeners to do as they're continuing this work
Well, beyond self examination and becoming more equity conscious, I would say that I would suggest that educators, number two, because examining yourself would be number one. Number two would be to look at the curriculum and see where we can disrupt the cannon because a lot of our great works are all by historically based white male authors and those kinds of things, especially when you think about high school and just simply decide : I'm gonna disrupt the cannon by including some black authors.
I'm gonna look at literacy. I'm gonna leverage literacy to let children see themselves and know that we care about them, seeing good models of themselves and they are out there in literature. I would also say that educators could leverage the opportunity for student participation. I don't think we are aware of it, but one of the things we do is we call on fast hands or people we know who will have the answer. And so simple things like having equity sticks where you put the names of children on popsicle sticks and you call on everybody and everybody has a turn that holds thing of opportunities to respond. We have found that black children and brown children a lot of times just don't have those opportunities to respond and maybe have the right answer, or some divergent thinking that would add to the discussion and make it a richer discussion.
So that's something very practical that they can do. There are some wonderful websites like Sankofa Reads and Black Lives Matter Library that will read stories to children about brown and black children. They read them in Spanish and English and helping children to see themselves in literature. That is so very important. Again, this whole notion of having the children to all know that you're going to call on them to respond and you can't take time off because I'm just calling them one kid or whatever, but getting them involved. One of the things we know about educating black and brown children is that they need relationships with people. That's very important when you look at literature. So another thing is take the time to develop relationships with the children. There's a whole philosophy called ten and two and I don't know if you know that, but I tried that and it works.
You take ten days and just for two minutes a day, you get to know maybe that child who's got behavior challenges are, who sits and seems so disconnected to the learning environment and you get to know them and you ask them a pointed question or speak to them or give them a smile and you'd be surprised how the relationships can add to the learning environment. So there are simple things you can do to begin this equity work. Look at a video, read a book. I'm looking at one right now that, it has been very good for me. It's called Start Where You Are, But Don't Stay There. And I don't know if you've heard of Richard Milner, but he is out of Tennessee and he is a great resource as you begin this equity work. And he talks about that
it's not just equity practices, but for a lot of the children, it's an opportunity gap that they don't have the opportunity for, to be educated by the good teachers. The best teachers are given to the gifted and talented students. And so we get a lot of children who have teachers who are first year teachers who don't understand about the importance of relationship building rituals, routines and rhythm of black and brown children and all those things. They don't have the opportunity for on-grade level work. There are so many things that some of our brown and black children don't have the opportunity for, which exasperates the achievement gap. And so his goal is to help you understand that if we improve opportunities, we can improve what the children are learning and sustain what they are learning so that everyone rises to the top, not just some groups of children, but all groups of children rise to the top.
So many great ideas in there and I had never heard of ten and two. So that makes so much sense. And I think also is probably really comforting for a teacher who is, I'm sure constantly like barraged with all the things they need to do in a day. And so they're like, oh I don't have time, but two minutes a day, like you have two minutes a day, we can do that. So I love that suggestion.
I would also suggest that the educators out there or anyone out there, take a course, one of the courses that I took and there are a lot of free equity courses. Out there was a course from M. I. T. On their open learning library and it's a course called Becoming a More Equitable Educator Mindsets and Practices, and it's a self paced course that is excellent. They give you articles to read, resources to explore. There are self checks that you can do checklists, audits, you can apply to your classroom to your school, to your district. Those kinds of things which help you to examine your practices to see where you can improve what you're doing on behalf of all children because equity practices are good for all children.
So taking a course, reading a book, watching a video, all of those things, in the comfort of your own home can create more awareness and more opportunity to advocate for children who are not equipped necessarily to advocate for themselves.
I love that you're emphasizing all of these great tools and resources and approaches for learning because I think sometimes we go into this thinking : I'm just gonna start doing this action or start building a relationship or something, but we have no new input and so it's our old ways of doing things, our old beliefs and we have nothing new coming in. We're not learning anything new. And so we just try to move forward with the way we've done things and just adapt slightly versus doing this in community or doing this with like you were saying, kind of these self assessment checks. There are all of these things that are helpful for us to make sure as we move forward, we're moving forward in a positive way in a way that's actually going to be more equitable.
And so I will link to as much of these resources as you've shared in the blog post in the show notes because I think it will be helpful for people to be able to click in and access all the great stuff you've been talking about. One of the things I wanted to ask you about is and I think this is so cool. You have been, since you mentioned you were retired, you have been you know, working in this your own consulting and coaching company with your daughter, which I think is such a cool thing. Do you mind sharing a bit about what you do in case people are interested in and you know, talking to you about that or what coaching you provide?
Well, what we do is our company is called Urban Education Solutions and our tag is that we help solve problems in education that are uniquely urban and that's where a lot of our our historically marginalized students reside in the urban setting. So I've been working with educators mainly coaches and principals and helping them with examining their practices and how we can make education more equitable for children.
Just recently I took on a client : the Indiana Council on Educating Students of Color. And so I'm working with them on their after school program and I'm the program director so that we can get more social emotional learning in the program, that we're practicing equity with the children that are there. And that we are also using those things that we know work as far as a framework for guiding the learning. And so you might have heard me mention that there are five things that guide that learning when you work with black and brown children. You need to have relationships. You need to have rituals and routines. You need to also understand that their rhythmic and that they're pounding on the desk not to ignore you, but it's a part of their spirit that they're rhythmically inclined. And so we wanna understand that they like routines and the rituals and the routines and those five Rs that I mentioned and that those things impact how you see them, you work with them and what you need to do to keep them engaged in the learning.
So we're big on engagement. And so even the simple thing of teaching the alphabet or nouns or verbs, if we can clap it, if we can pat our hands or whatever. That's very important to our historically marginalized students because that's a part of their culture. There's no way anyone can know about all the cultures and subcultures, but there are some basic things that we can learn to do that can help us as we work with the children such as Gamify or Storify telling stories. That's a big part of our oral history as minority groups and so those are some things that can be done as well in the classroom. One of my best books ever that gives you the whole idea of being a culturally responsive educated, which is important to this equity work is Zaretta Hammond's work on the culturally being culturally responsive, culturally responsive teaching in the brain.
And so she talks about having tools in your toolkit that you can use so that you can keep the children engaged in learning and that you're teaching with them in mind. You've always got to keep the child in mind. And so when you're culturally responsive when your equity minded, the child is always in the forefront, not the lesson plan, not even necessarily the test scores, we want to be student centered. So that's the kind of work we've been doing. I've been coaching instructional coaches season, so that we can be equity minded. So I think that's the kind of work we've been involved in, also been involved in speaking at conferences. She and I have done conference work speaking via Zoom. Zoom has become our best friend. So we've put on local conferences, we've participated in local conferences and even national conferences that we've had an opportunity to participate in and just getting the word out there, that we all need to stay concerned and not just because Covid has shown us that there's all these disproportionality ease, they were always there.
They just had the spotlight shined on them since Covid, you know, that digital divide and all of that is real. But to keep the work going, that's what's important to me, keep the work going beyond Covid that we need to give every child, but he or she needs so they can be successful.
Amazing. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for sharing a bit about what you're doing and it is phenomenal. I love all the five Rs and the focus on engagement and the idea of continuing to go. I think we have, you know, these moments in time where we shine spotlights and then we focus for a finite period of time and then we go back to the way things always were. And so I love that you're focused on not doing that and just, you know, continuing the work so incredibly important. So as folks kind of hear all of these resources, you've shared so many really precise action steps as well as resources that they can go check out and as I said, I'll try to link to all those as they listen to the episode.
They might feel like, okay, there's a lot that I should go do and is there anything that you would recommend as the best place to start. So as they're trying to really live in alignment with these values of equity and justice that we've talked about, like what is a good kind of step one as they go forward, end the episode and start to do this work.
Well, I want our readers to understand that Equity is important work and it might be work that you're doing alone because everyone won't see it your way. And so you've got to be courageous enough to say, even if my colleagues don't join me, it's important enough work that I am going to keep at it and I'm going to pace myself through the journey even if I have to do it alone. And so I would suggest looking at one of the Equity websites, there are lots of websites out there and there are some as you know, with everything that are better than others.
I started with the Association of California School Administrators and they have an excellent website and definition of equity. I would just start there just looking at that definition, unpacking it, finding out what it means to me and what I can do in light of what that definition says. That's one of the things that I would do. The other thing is I would go to one of the Equity websites. There's one that is very good. I'm trying to look through my notes to see if I can find the name of it. It's the National Equity Alliance, that's another good website to go to. Just to see what our website saying about equity and just looking from there, taking an overview of what's happening and what people are saying and what happens is what you and I talked about.
You find your little niche, you find your little niche however you pronounce it of where you want to go. For me, the big thing was leveraging literacy and how I could get more stories about other children of color or childrens of color into everyday curriculum. Then it was opportunities to respond. How am I making my classroom richer or my school richer by having everyone ready to respond. Everyone participating and not just calling on the same children all the time and allowing the ratio of children to be called on to be more inclusive. So there are simple things like that. If I had to say, oh well I'm not one to look at websites and I'm not one to listen to definitions, I would say start with Zaretta Hammond's book on Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Brain. Out of those three things that I've mentioned, the website, the California Association of Administrators, and Zarretta's book, you ought to find some way that you can jump in.
The whole notion is jump in, don't stay where you are just being a curious bystander. Jump in and be as with November... October, I'm sorry, it's national bullying month, be an up stander, that's what we teach children: don't be a bystander, be an up stander. So that's where I would suggest you start just saying: I'm committed to being an up stander. If someone makes a rude racial joke in the teacher's lounge, I'm gonna walk out. If I don't have the courage to say : hey guys, that's not nice, or I'm going to have the courage to say: that's not nice, or take an equity, walk around your building, your classroom. Do you have pictures of different racist creeds, ethnicities? Then commit to. I'm going to get a committee in and let's just get some other pictures up of other kids around the school.
If you have permission, take pictures of your own classroom. You know, you can get those frame for a little of nothing and the kids who just love seeing themselves around the school. But whatever you do, start where you are and don't stay there.
I love that: start where you are and don't stay there. So one of the things that I like to ask at the close of the episode that's really just kind of for fun. I think all the guests that I have on are always talking about, you know, really growing like I like you have been today and and being lifelong learners and committed to this journey and so I'm just curious to know what is something that you have been recently learning about yourself?
Well that's a good question. One of the things I have learned about myself and partly it is my personality and partly is because of the work that I've always done, I've been an administrator and a lead teacher and all of those kinds of things. I always show up to be in charge and you know what, that's not collaborative and that's what needs to happen in the equity work and the work for justice, you can't show up to be in control and in charge, you have to show up firstly to be cooperative and then that leads to collaborative.
So that's the one thing I am learning about myself. I am learning to be more collaborative and I think that has happened because as I had been involved in my business and I have began the work of coaching, coaches should be collaborative beings. And so I have been doing a lot of work on myself to be a more collaborative educator, so that's where I am working on collaboration. And then I also have a little angel on my shoulder, my daughter. She'll tell me when I'm showing up in charge and she'll say, you know, we need to work together. And it's probably that old mindset that principles have to know everything and they have to be a resource and a broker of resources and you have the answers. But no, no one person has all the answers, not in the equity work, not in any work associated with schooling. You know, you've got to be a collaborative player and so that's the work that I'm working on now, to grow and learn as a senior citizen.
That is beautiful.
Thank you so much for sharing that with our listeners. That's really great. And I think people who are, you know, have been listening to this whole episode are really going to want to connect with you and I'm sure everyone's gonna be inspired by what you're doing. So where can people go online to find more out about what it is you do or connect with you in some way?
Thank you. I appreciate that. I'm still in the process of building my website. So I am open to anyone who would like to connect with me to just come to my personal website. My email address is... I've said website, I meant my email address is joyce, lower case letters, the number 4, jesus @ sbc global dot net and I will be prompt to respond. It's my pleasure to still be involved in this work and it's energizing work. You know Lindsey, when we are stressed stress takes air out of our balloon as a metaphor.
You know, it deflates us. And for me, teaching puts air in my balloon. So any work, any teaching that I can do to help people to encourage equity practices to help children who can't advocate for themselves have a fair chance in life, that puts air in my balloon. And if you begin the equity work in earnest, I'm sure it will put air in your balloon as well.
That is such a wonderful idea to end on Joyce. Thank you so much for being part of the podcast.
Thank you Lindsey for having me.
Thanks for listening, amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me at Lindsey Beth Lyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it. To continue the conversation, You can head over to our Time for Teachership Facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time leaders continue to think big, act brave and be your best self.
School that is fun and interesting with choices and freedom with Guille, Eden, and Nico from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary YearsRead Now
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I am so excited for you all to hear from our guests today. Today we are joined by several folks from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary Years all the way in Barcelona Spain.
We have Guille Villena who is the learning guide and Primary Years lead and he's brought along two Primary Years students, Eden and Nico. I can't wait for you to hear from these insightful voices around educational innovation and in their own words describing a school that is fun and interesting with choices and freedom.
This conversation for context was recorded on October 4th 2021. Let's get right to it.
Hi, I'm Lindsey Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities. Take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti-racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar.
If you are a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader.
And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts. If you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for teacher ship podcast. Let's dive in.
Today I am welcomed by three folks from the LearnLife Nature Hub for Primary Years in Gabba Spain in the Barcelona area and I am so excited to turn it over to them to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their school. Welcome everybody.
Thank you. Welcome.
I can start introducing myself. I'm Guille Villena, I'm currently the primary years lead of the nature Hub programs. I have been involved with LearnLife for almost three years. I started in the urban hub with the secondary years programs and we started the primary years project a year ago midst of the pandemic and the lockdown.
So it was a very interesting point to start the project but here we are with the second year growing in numbers. Iterating the programs and we're very, very excited for all of the new adventures to come.
And here with me, I have two learners who will introduce themselves with their name, their age and their favorite animal.
Yeah, My name is Eden, I'm 10 years old and my favorite animal are canines.
My name is Nico, I'm 10 years old and my favorite animal is the cheetah.
That is brilliant, thank you so much. That's really fun to learn about your favorite animals and also very interesting animal choices. I feel like those are really spot on. So one of the first things I'd love to dive into is there is an educator and a scholar, her name is Doctor Bettina Love and she talks about this idea called freedom dreaming and she says what we're doing right when we think about education as we want it to be.
Just like we're really thinking about dreams grounded in the critique or the criticism of injustice. And so I'm curious to know for you all, what is the big dream that you hold for the field of education? Like what do you wish school would be if it could be everything that you wanted it to be?
So our big, big, big dream as an organization is to help achieve 21st century learning model that empowers self directed learners, into their personal learning. And I would like to extend this question to Eden and Nico and what would be what, what would a perfect school look like for you?
To me it would be fun, interesting, lots of choices, not just like give you a paper and you have to do it. Like now you're allowed to work with people and you don't have to sit desks in a row.
The best school for me would be uh fun, the school will be fun and you know that you're learning something and using technology too. That's a brilliant answer. Thank you. Thank you both. That sounds like a really cool school that you're all painting collectively. I would like to attend that school. That sounds great. The next question I want to ask you is, you know, there are some teachers and some leaders who are just amazing, right there. They bring that to life. They make school fun and interesting and they use technology and they do all those things you're talking about and so I want to know what are like the ways that those teachers or leaders really help facilitate the learning. So what mindsets or ways of thinking about students do they have or what do they do as teachers that are really helpful for you?
I can start and then extend the question.
I would say the first thing that these leaders or teachers or as we call them, learning guides need to have is a very strong awareness of what positive relationships are. Because that's in our core of of what we do. Positive relationships for the learners between ourselves um as colleagues and with the the outside community I think that's a key, a key mindset. Also being agile and being able to navigate through uncertainty, having a growth mindset, divergent thinking and especially being able to collaborate. We have shifted from a solo mindset, and most teachers in traditional systems work by themselves and we have shifted that mindset into collaboration and working in collaboration with other learning guides and in the wider company, you know, so that for me, those would be the main mindset.
I don't know how Eden and Nico value? what is the thing that you most value about the learning guides here?
That they're kind and, I don't know how to say it, um creative and that they can join you and help you if you have problems.
I think it's nice that the teachers are nice and that they motivate you and accept your ideas.
I love those answers. Absolutely. I love the idea of accepting your ideas and and being creative, right? And partnering with people outside of both collegiately like both, you know, as colleagues and also outside of the school, the super cool ideas.
So I'd love to think about the people who are listening now there are a lot of people who are going to be, educators, they're learning guides in their own school. They are maybe leaders or heads of school, even family members as well, but people who are really helping to educate and help children learn. And I'm wondering what advice you would give them. So what advice would you give them in terms of what they can do to make that dream come to life and what action or thing can they, can they do to really be the type of educators and learning guides that you were just describing?
I would say so if you're a parent, I would challenge you to think how am I helping my kid to be ready for her or his future. If your school leader, I would challenge you to think how am I empowering my community to enable change. And if you're a teacher, I would challenge you to think how can I be the driver of change in my own community. And for everyone, I would suggest that we think or we remind ourselves to think more as a learner, so putting ourselves in the learners shoes and thinking about every single decision that we take or that we make, if we're doing it from the learner's perspective. Because sometimes we get caught into the routines and the status quo and we we keep forgetting the learner and at least for us what everything that we do is for the learner.
So I would invite everyone to, to think as if they were a learner.
Beautiful, Eden and Nico, did you have anything you wanted to say advice for teachers or learning guides?
That's totally okay, thank you. so this question is for for all of you, what is the school experience that you've had? It could be this year, it could be you know, previous years that helped you or influenced you the most.
What was a cool experience that you've had that makes you feel like "oh I love this" or that inspired you?
It was a lot different at my other school, you could choose what to do, like you could choose what to learn what you want to learn and you were more like a bit free because from the other school we needed to sit all the time and write on your paper and that was, and you learn a lot of English. Like when I came here I know not a lot of english and now I think I can speak english.
Yeah, I mean you've, you've you've grown so much in English and you got it in a year, so you should be very proud of yourself, I totally agree. And what about you, Eden, what is an experienced here and LearnLife that has inspired you or that was different from your previous school?
My other school, like they'd give you something to do and if you did not understand it, you'd have to stay through snack break and you'd have to work and then when there was like one minute left you could go out and have a breather but then you'd have to come straight back up. But here it's different, you get to stop, you get to have a snack and then another day you get to finish it.
And for me school experience that I had um I guess that I would pick um when I was a teenager I suffered from bullying and I think that has helped me in my professional growth as an educator. Because I keep reminding myself how learners feel socially in the classroom or at school and there are sometimes they are invisible and if there's not a safe space for them, they will never share how they feel and they will be trapped in this nightmare that they're experiencing.
So for me that was eye opening and one of my goals is to ensure that we have a safe space and that we empower them to emotional education and and that the culture for learning here is very positive and that's why I was stressing so much the idea of positive relationships.
Thank you so much for sharing that. I think that's so important. Sometimes we only think, and I think Eden's answer speaks to that as well too, right? That you have to do this work at the expense of everything else. You can't have snack time, you can't focus on the social well being of children and that clearly isn't what people want, right? Like Eden was saying it's way better to have snack time and then be able to to finish your work later or just pay attention to, you know, how kids are doing in the larger like, you know, whole self that they bring to school, not just in academics. And you know, Nico to your point, I think it's really powerful, you said that we are choosing right? Where I love your quote, you you're kind of you're a bit free, right?
Like in this new school that you're in now, right? Compared to your previous school and I'd love to hear, you know what are some of the things, just to give people an idea, I think the way that you all learn in your current school is really different from maybe some of the people who are listening, the schools they've been to as children or the schools they teach at now. And so could you tell me a little bit about, you know, what's a project or what's a thing that you have chosen to learn about recently in one of your classes?
So for impassioned projects for example, can you tell them what what that's about?
So passion projects, you choose a project which you wanted to do what you want to do and then you get the credit and you have to like um write, how many materials you need, how long do you think it'll take you? And then once you're done on Fridays, there is community meeting where you get to show your project to the whole school.
That sounds amazing. So what were some of the passion projects that you both have been working on?
I'm gonna make a lamp and I'm also doing a bakery with two other friends of mine.
That's incredible. Nico what about you?
I really like super heroes, like Marvel characters. So I decided to build, trying to build like a cardboard Iron Man suit.
That is really cool. Oh, that's so awesome, wow, you are impressive learners. I am very excited to to hear more about these projects later on when you're done. That's so great. So as we are kind of coming to the close of the episode, I would love for you to share either something that you wish that listeners would do. I know you were talking about advice earlier or if it's easier, what's the most important thing that we talked about today that you want people to remember as they stop listening to the episode and go about the rest of their day.
Any ideas? What is something they would like the viewers to remember, well what you said or the most important thing?
To hear other people's opinions and not just do whatever you want, it's Friday tomorrow.
For me it's again not to to recall our ourselves as learners and our past experiences in school and reflect on that and see what is the impact that we can make with with that mindset.
Excellent suggestions. as one of the questions I really like to ask as just kind of a fun question at the end and I think I kind of asked this already of Eden and Nico but feel free to add something else. You know what is something that you have been learning about lately and so for Guille, I think one of the things I think about is you know, as adults sometimes and learning guides um that commitment as you were saying earlier to constantly grow is so important and so just to kind of model that we are always learning as well as adults. You know something that you've been learning about lately.
I totally agree with you. Here we see ourselves also as learners. So I'm currently being a learner in surfing and I started learning how to surf actually.
I remember Eden last year. Yeah, exactly. You were giving me some tips which I have been using lately. so I always remember you when, when I surf. Yeah, for me it's it's having a growth mindset, surfing. It's challenging but very exciting. What about you guys, what is something that you have been learning lately?
I've been learning how to play the piano since last christmas and I think I've improved quite a lot but I still have to learn how to read better. What about you Nico? Learned like in natural systems or Explora or...
I don't know.
It is hard to be interviewed. So I understand you'll think of something amazing that you want to say later. I'm sure. Awesome. Well thank you all for sharing. And is there anywhere that if someone who's listening really wants to check out more about the work that your school is doing or if your your school has a website or wants to connect, is there somewhere that people can go to?
Just follow the great stuff that that's happening?
Yeah, I mean they can log in to LearnLife.com and then follow us in our social media channels. We're on Instagram, Facebook Twitter LinkedIn.
Perfect. I will link to those in the show notes too so people can be able to click those easily and I just want to say one more time to, Eden and Nico thank you so much for taking time out of your day to, to speak with us and to speak to the listeners. I really appreciate you all being on the podcast.
Thank you. Thank you for for the time and congratulations for your podcast.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsayblyons or leave a review of the show. So leaders like you will be more likely to find it. To continue the conversation you can head over to our time for teacher ship facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time leaders continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Listen to the episode by clicking the link to your preferred podcast platform below:
I'm excited to welcome you to today's conversation with Dr. Jenny Finn. For reference, this was recorded on August 17th of 2021. Jenny holds a PhD in sustainability education from Prescott College and a master's degree in social work from Colorado State University. She is an RSA fellow and a country lead for the USA for 100 An international collective highlighting educational innovations globally.
For the past 25 years, Jenny has been committed to creating healthy culture by starting with an unwavering commitment to her own personal growth and transformation. As a result of her own journey with addiction and cancer, Jenny understands that a healthy relationship with the world begins with a strong connection to ourselves and community in a culture that often fosters separation and disconnection, Jenny's research mentoring and teaching invites people to deepen the relationship they have with themselves in order to serve the world with greater clarity, compassion, creativity and courage. Jenny's work has taken many forms including nonprofit direction, trauma and hospice care, spiritual care and chaplaincy, private practice, community building through the expressive arts and educational design.
She is the founding visionary at Springhouse and sees place based education oriented around the source of life as a primary agent transformed culture. She's honored to work with the outstanding Spring House team and is deeply committed to the Spring House mission of designing vitality centered education and sharing source to design through Source design labs at Spring House, Jenny lives on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband Andy and their two teenage children Andrew and Lizzy.
To learn more about her work visit sourceddesign.org and springhouse.org. Here we go. Let's dive into our conversation with Dr. Jenny Finn.
Hi, I'm Lindsay Lyons and I love helping school communities envision bold possibilities, take brave action to make those dreams a reality and sustain an inclusive, anti racist culture where all students thrive. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach, educational consultant and leadership scholar. If you're a leader in the education world, whether you're a principal, superintendent, instructional coach or a classroom teacher excited about school wide change like I was, you are a leader. And if you enjoy nerding out about the latest educational books and podcasts, if you're committed to a lifelong journey of learning and growth and being the best version of yourself, you're going to love the time for Teachership podcast, let's dive in.
Okay, Jenny Finn, welcome to the Time For Teachership Podcast.
Thank you so much. I'm really happy to be here Lindsay.
I'm so glad you're here. Do you want to add anything to the amazing, very well rounded bio that I just read to further introduce yourself to listeners.
You know what, I think the bio says it all and I would just say, as I said to you earlier that this work is deeply, deeply personal to me. So I think when you, when you read the bio, you'll see that. But it really does, my own personal experience informs all of the work that I've been engaged in for almost 30 years now.
Amazing, thank you so much and thank you for the great work that you're doing. One of the things I like to start with is just kind of this big dream question around, you know, what is the big dream you hold for the field of education? And I really love Dr Bettina Loves quote about freedom dreaming in this, and I draw a lot of inspiration from her where she says really it's dreams grounded in the critique of injustice.
And so with that in mind, what is the dream that you hold for education?
That's a really, really great question. The first thing that comes to me is let me think and hope that I can get this right and I don't know who said this, but it's something that we often say at Spring House, which is the community that we'll talk about today that I co founded eight years ago. But it's it's basically a quote that says "A vision without a task is just a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision with a task is the hope for the world." So, my hope for education, how I see education is not as a noun. It is a verb, to me refers to intergenerational relationships that could foster anything any kind of agenda. So it's intergenerational relations at least at springhouse.
It's intergenerational relationships that foster vitality. So that life is at the center of everything. Taking care of life, no matter how old you are, who you are in the system. That those intergenerational relationships are there to take care of protect and foster life. So to me and Springhouse our vision is regenerative culture.
Somebody just asked me yesterday "What the heck does that mean?" That means a culture, I know that we really don't know what that means because many of us have never experienced it in our family system or in our educational system or the culture at large. Regenerative culture to me and to us at Springhouse is the big vision and the big dream. And that means a culture that orients around life and takes care of it. And then our mission is to create and activate vitality centered education. Where life and freedom are at the center of everything.
Not only happiness not only what we want, no that's not it, it's like how do we honor the full experience of life, the cycles of life, that life runs through human beings and beyond human beings, and to the other than human world. How does it lead us into wholeness? How does it lead us into joy? Those are the questions that we hold. So that's really it. And what I love is to experience and see our examples, living examples of people doing the messy work.
Like Dr. Bettina Love talks about of at one point, she said, you know, we just kind of we need to fully reimagine and redesign our school system. Agreed and eight years in the making here at Springhouse, that's what we're doing. And I can tell you it is not easy, it is not a path for the faint of heart, but we do need people who are really being midwives, cultural midwives, bringing forth new designs that orient around life. Long answer.
But it's a big question.
Absolutely. It's a big question and I love that answer. It makes me think too of all of the work... And so my research is in the student voice field and student leadership field and there's so much in there that I love with the youth adult partnership framing of, you know, it is that intergenerational relationship that you're talking about and we can create anything when we have that foundational relationship.
And that's such a key piece that I think often is missing when we think about, you know, traditional mindsets of education and the teacher has all the information and then we dictate that to the students. And so I'm curious to know whether there was a particular mindset that folks who started the school with you have adopted or if you're speaking to listeners who are in traditional schools and maybe have these traditional views of education or have colleagues who have adopted those traditional views, you know, what's that shift away from the traditional view? What's the mindset that will enable people to do the work in that way that that you're dreaming it about.
Mm That's a great question.
It's one I literally just came off another call around. I think it's humility. I think the mindset is humility and surrender. That the human will has limits. And I think because of that exactly the model you just discussed around the teacher has it and the young person doesn't, first of all is false. It's just, it's an illusion. It's not true and it causes an adult in that system to rest in a false sense of security, where I have expertise and wisdom in certain areas of my life and then there's a lot, I don't know. And that's great. that makes me human. that makes me hopefully curious and flexible and vital. Because I don't know it all and I shouldn't know it all.
It makes me actually really boring and kind of stiff to other people, especially young people. It also totally dis empowers our youth. It just does, it doesn't allow them to know that they have gifts to offer in their stage of development.
So I think it leads to really disempowered and dependent youth that lack an inner compass. And I mostly think that's because as adults we think we have one because we're orienting around our expertise, but that's not an inner compass, that's not, an inner compass is deeper than my expertise.
So those are some of the thoughts I have, but I also love talking about some solutions and example. And so one thing I'll say is that at Springhouse, you know, we see, I see as the founding visionary there, I see all of the adults well, I don't see them, they are regenerative culture builders, they're building regenerative culture now starting with themselves.
So they start with themselves. I'll say that again as adults and that's essential with the design that we are practicing at Springhouse. That it starts with the adults. It cannot be, we can't project all our problems onto the youth and try to fix it through them that we have to do our own work. And we do and it doesn't make us perfect and it just makes us more pliable and flexible and hopefully hospitable. And what we then do is we have a student, we have a learner leadership model where young people within Springhouse can apprentice with an adult who's a regenerative culture builder.
So they'll they may like one student may I have an apprentice with me who's a 17 year old who's the learner visionary. And so he's really learning about what it means to be a visionary. Where we have another team who's working directly with the, the regenerative culture builder adult who is working with adolescent development. So we have a 17 year old who is working closely with him, we have another person who, another young person who's working closely with our vitality centered education lead.
So it's like they partner and then they have something called the round table where the students meet together and then they bring their learning from their different apprenticeships together in service, not just like as a learning, like a relevant learning situation. It's more like they're actually, they're helping to guide Springhouse and like to make Springhouse stronger.
So it's a real life thing that they're doing that actually impacts them as well as our community. So that's just one example of how we know that we need their wisdom from where they are in their stage of development and they know that they need ours and there's mutual respect. And an orientation around the common vision. So those are just some of the thoughts I have around that.
Yeah, and I love that you're talking about, you know, I often called the brave actions, like the actions that are really required. The examples, the strategies, the things like this. I love that you're also talking structurally right structurally.
There are structures in place for students to opt into an apprenticeship to have that space at the round table to come together. To be able to have the mindset and the humility that you're talking about, where leaders are open to the ideas that students are bringing from that round table. I think this is all so practical and helpful for people who are like, "Oh, you know, maybe I could do something like this at my school if it's not already." I know you have a lot of really interesting innovative ideas around curriculum and what learning looks like, and I know your website is a wealth of information with a bunch of resources that people can grab. Do you mind speaking to kind of the actions that your teachers take or your students take around how, how they learn and what they learn about in the class.
you know, I think it's so important to say that I can't stress this enough. And really, the only way to know this is to immerse yourself at Springhouse it is so different, it's so different that like, we don't refer to ourselves as teachers, not because teacher is a bad word, not at all, it's just not naturally the role, I can't in like classes in terms of like, there are courses and explorations.
So I know that maybe folks who are listening to me who are in a more conventional system may have trouble bringing what I'm saying into their paradigm and that makes sense because they're different. Because they have different orientations. They have different centers, they're after something different at the center of the design. And that's important to say to anyone who's listening, certainly though, and we'll get to the five principles of the design, which are not just Springhouse there as ancient as ancient can be, they're just not well practiced. So when we talk about that, people could certainly let's say take care of the vulnerability in their classroom. So in terms of, and maybe we go there, maybe we go there to those principles.
Okay, Because I think that's a way where if you are out there and I know some of you are, because I've worked with people around the world who are either really just trying to bring a different, just something different to their classrooms. But I'm also working with people who are saying I'm ready to really build something new, "How do I start?", "What do I do?"
So at Springhouse, we work with five design principles that were articulated mostly from the experiment of Springhouse. and we're articulated after a yearlong focus group, basically kept asking the question, "What is remarkable and unique about Springhouse?", "What is our identity?", "Who are we?" So we really took that seriously. We had teens community members, adults within the system asking that question and really exploring it for a year. From that we can we have, we named five design principles that are practiced daily and alive at Springhouse, which is great to have a living example of what's possible.
We're not out to replicate and scale like other places, use these principles in ways that respect your people in your place. And that's already happening and it's amazing to see how unified we are, but also how diverse we are at the same time. So those principles are the first one is take care of vulnerability. So at all costs, no matter what, we take care of vulnerability, if we're missing that foundational principle, forget about it, just forget about it.
So there's nothing more important than that. That's it. Take care of vulnerability inside yourself, in your community, with the earth, just take care of it. And we'll be living in a different world if we did that. And I know like I'm saying that simply, but I know I know personally the process of what that feels like to shift from living in shame and highlighting to living and taking care of vulnerability.
It's a lifelong journey and the second principle is to cultivate personhood. And so we do that in a lot of ways um, at Springhouse, but that basically means tend to your own personal development, no matter how old you are, you tend to that. One of the ways we do that is by radically reclaiming our relationship with our bodies. So in our vitality center educational design there and it's way too much to go into here, but there's three solid pillars in that model body, society and earth.
We tend to all of those things as a regenerative culture builder, our relationship to those aspects both of human culture, of earth culture and to ourselves, primarily our bodies. Because we're so disembodied. That's the result of a lot of that. That a lot of our issues are a result of that problem. So we're saying at Springhouse, we're taking the body back, we're taking it back and we're exploring it in all different kinds of ways, sexuality, race, gender identity, I mean all kinds of, all kinds of ways.
So there's that and one of the primary ways we do that is dance, we spend an enormous time with the earth and mentoring every single team has a mentor at Springhouse and every adult has a mentor. So that's that's mentoring is a cultural way for us. and that doesn't mean professional therapy, that's not what it means, it means, I'm walking with someone on the path, I'm maybe a little further down on that spiral.
I'm holding a lantern and I'm saying you can do it, that's what mentoring is to us. The third principle is build beloved community, one really specific way we do that is we sing a lot and we share power. We orient around life and we share power. And we take care of our power. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to do that.
The 4th principle is respect the wisdom of the earth. So we do that in a lot of ways just by paying attention and learning and better relating with the earth, and our land, but we're also this fall really exploring, I can't remember what it's called, but like learning from the land and looking at, the indigenous people who were on our land first and and exploring the history of that by walking the land, not just sitting and listening, but by actually walking and and walking with people from our community. Another way we respect the wisdom of the earth is how we structure our financial model, our investment model.
We do not situate education as a commodity, it is not a transaction. It is a relationship. So our financial, our investment models based on trust, transparency and relationship. So that's a huge experiment and I can report after four months of experimenting, it's going pretty well. Lots of tears, lots of relationship building and lots of freedom happening.
Finally love and serve others. We foster vitality to better love and live in the world. What else are we? What else are we doing here? What else should education be for? What else should it be for? I mean, what to perpetuate an individualistic, unsustainable culture. I don't think so, not for me. So I know how hard it is. I know that we're not doing it perfectly, but I know that the good news is I'm not doing it alone and that our community continues to grow globally and that's because what we're doing is needed and it's ancient, it's ancient.
We're really just taking care of some wisdom that is ancient and we're just bringing it forward. So whether you're starting something new or you're thinking about your own family system or your own life, like maybe start by asking do you take care of your own vulnerability?
I asked that in every... and now we share our design globally through source design labs., so we have a global network work. If people are interested wherever you're listening, you can learn from the living example of Springhouse through this network. Um, and I can give that website later, but there's all kinds of people who do it. People who just want to foster vitality in their own life to start with or their own family or it could be someone who likes someone in Belgium who's wanting to start a school.
You know, it really is to start with the principles with yourself and then any of these could be worked out and applied in your, in your communities and I would say just the one who has done this for many years personally and in my calling.
We need support, we need each other, we need to remember that we're not in this alone, that's what Springhouse is really. It's like you're not alone, go for it, go for it. We're here to support you and we know we'll learn from you. So if you are out there doing design that's oriented around vitality, like has that at the center, I would love to hear from you because we can support each other and learn from each other.
That's amazing. Thank you so much for going through each of those. And I, there's so many things that I'm connecting with personally. I'm really interested in the sharing of power and how that happens and you know, what are the practices by which that happens. I also just love that you're going beyond like a land acknowledgment of like who you know, who are the indigenous people who have, who have lived on this land and started this land and to actually walk the land and to walk in community on the land.
I just, I feel like these are things that even if you are in a traditional schooling system, you can still do those things, you can go out and walk the land right? And so I think these are so valuable as practices that are concrete and transferrable to a lot of different systems as well.
I know you're saying you're doing something completely different, which is so true. And I hope that people will also take the inspiration from that to try to create these new systems that aren't so traditional in the way that we've been doing that aren't so siloed and more community based, more vitality based.
Yes and you know, it's so beautiful how you just said that because well I'll tell you in full transparency with the land acknowledgement thing. We had a land acknowledgement written and one of the staff members came to me at the end of the year and said, okay, we're going to move forward. Like we're gonna, will you read this, will you read this when we go into our graduation? And I looked at it and I said, it's not that I am not like heart committed to everything written here. I don't, but I don't even barely know how to pronounce the names of these people. I don't, this doesn't, this feels like it's not coming from the inside out. I want this, but I want our community to know who these people are, where we are.
Like we we have to do the work first. We can't just say this even though we really want to. I mean we could maybe, but I can't, I can't, I have to do, I have to do the work to know what I'm talking about that, this is rooted in my body and in this place in our communities body. And so what's happening now in the staff member. I mean we were both in tears and we were both like "exactly let's hold on this, let's make it top priority" that we walked the land with this community and we get to know it in that way that leads to a community written land acknowledgment that that is very rooted not only in Springhouse but in our place and in our hearts.
And that's an example of really truly like a design that's oriented around vitality. It's like around that it's real and we didn't I didn't want to like just slap something on to relieve my guilt or to relieve my I just I just wanted a deeper transformative experience to inform my actions and that is a norm that really is enormous Springhouse.
And then the other thing I'll say is for those who are listening to more conventional system. Whatever that means, is it really means basically if your design is oriented around anything other than that like that freedom in that life, it's really hard. Like I want to just empathize, people might want to go out and and walk the land and like do a community mural or but because the system is oriented around standardization, individualism, consumerism.
Because it's oriented around things that are disembodied not oriented around justice for all like those things, it's so hard because you're having to commit to this agenda, right? That doesn't have space to like take care of your body or get to know the land or even get to know the body who's in the next classroom. You might not even be able to chat or cry or play with your neighbor in your school system, let alone step outside of your school building.
So I think not only our young people suffering in the way we've structured education, I just want to speak on behalf of the adults who are in that system that are really fighting for creativity and and their own autonomy and all kinds of things in the system that just isn't oriented around that. So not that it's not possible, It is, but it may even start with like maybe go out of your classroom and do something radical like have a cup of tea with your partner next door. You know, or just talk to a student for five minutes longer, ask them some questions about who they are or what they love or what they're scared of.
Yeah, that's such a good idea, such concrete good ideas and also I just love that, you know, it reminds me of this idea of like it was from the nineties I think 'add women and stir' was like the thing that people were like criticizing that we're just adding women to these corporate environments and we're just stirring and it's still at the root, very oppressive, not just a space.
And I feel like a lot of the movement lately in education to incorporate things like justice, like well being of adults and young people is very much like we're going to try to add it into the system that is not enabling us to do it well. And then we're frustrated because we're trying to add when we don't have time to add and we're trying to, you know, do all these ways and all these shortcuts that aren't going to work. And so I really appreciate that you named that in that way.
Yes, yes. Because we ended up symptoms., I just told this story to someone on my 8:00 meeting in Finland actually. And, it's really this, you know, there's a, there's an Appalachian tradition called, well that's basket weaving and it's pretty intense. I mean, it's a rite of passage to, to weave a basket and I've gone through it and there's a certain design where you put the loops together. And then you start with what's called the God's Eye and it's where the two loops are linked.
And then the whole basket weaves from the eye. If you don't get the God's eye, not perfect, but pretty close to center. The basket really unfolds in a way that doesn't make it a usable basket. I at first did not get the God's eye, not even close to the center, It's kind of like when you're a potter too and you're making a pot, it's like the centering is key. So like the centering and I had to unravel. My instructor said if you want this to be a usable basket, you need to unravel and start over. And I was like, oh god, part of me just wanted to move the basket and just be done with it, right? I mean, what, what am I doing?
But I unraveled and now I have a really usable basket that I get are chicken eggs and then I can use it. and it's beautiful actually, my point with that nice basket story is that when we don't have the eye of the design is centered as it can be around and if it is centered on something that's not life giving or it's trying to be, but it doesn't know what it is.
The basket, the design has some problems and to say it lightly. And then what we end up doing is symptom management, we end up over here trying to manage the symptom when the thing actually is the problem with the center. And I just think it takes a lot to go to the center and that's not just with a system that's enormous, right? But even as a person, like think about ourselves where it's like "Gosh, I really wish my life was taking a different design, what's going on?" And then we end up symptom management over here rather than just like sitting down and really being with ourselves and being with like, what's at the center of me? What's at the center of me? Am I living a life that's unfolding out of fear or out of reaction to something or what's true for me?
And unfortunately education, at least to me and my experience, it never really asked those questions that helped me get to the center to the God's eye. And my hope at Springhouse is that we are doing that, but that means we're shifting the whole agenda.
That's the thing. And so many would call it like the last questions like, is this legitimate? Uh is this education? Is this an after school program? Is this social emotional learning? Is this what, what is this? What is this if it's not after? Does everyone go to college? And do they go to the best college so they can get the best job and make the best money.
It's like or get the most fame or it's like, we're just not even orienting around that. And so it makes sense that as a culture, it would be like, well, is this legitimate or is this like just a play school or after daycare or whatever the thing is, and it's like, no, it's just just reorienting the God's eye on the basket. And we're just doing it one day at a time together, but it's definitely not easy. It's not easy. I love that analogy.
Thank you so much. Now, I want to take a basket weaving class, very curious about a lot of work.
But it is, it is I threw my basket on the floor many times.
So as we kind of start to wrap up the episode, I think we've talked about so many different practices, strategies, values, things that people could be thinking about.
And so I'm curious for the listener who is taking it all in and thinking about, you know, I just want one step to start with, what would you recommend that someone do as they end the episode and and start to implement some of the stuff. What may be a first step for people to kind of live in alignment with what we've been talking about today?
Yeah, that's a good question. one that's really important to me. I would well, I would first ask myself, am I taking care of vulnerability in my life? And if the answer is, I don't know, then I would explore that. If the answer is no. Then I would say I would explore that and then if the answer is yes, then I would say, how do I get to know more of that?
Because with each one of us, our personhood is the greatest gift we can offer. And if people don't know what I'm talking about, a great person to read is Parker Palmer. on that where it's like you're... and and he's just one person, I mean there's many, many ancient teachings and many people out there now who are speaking to this, but it's like you're very present is a gift, so take care of it.
And it matters a lot. It matters a lot and it matters a lot and how you relate with youth because if you know your presence is a gift and you're taking care of it, then you're truly doing what education is at its root, which means to draw out, it means to draw out.
And if you don't know what's in you, how could you possibly, I mean, how could you possibly be, your very presence could draw out what's true and authentic in someone else, but it has to be true and authentic in new.
So I would start by doing that and if you are like, I don't know exactly what that means, then I would offer, if you are resonating with anything I'm saying, then I would go to SourcedDesign.org. That and that's spelled Source S O U R C E D design dot org. and there's a lot there about what I'm saying. All the way from taking, there's a whole section and it's all open sourced. So if you go to the curriculum part of it, you'll find so many resources that are there to support you and then if you're "Like oh God I'm really interested in this." Then we have sourced design labs and those are, we keep them very small and intimate.
We have 12 people from around the globe who really are just committed to working these principles together through their own individual projects in their place and that's another option, the fall is full but the winter is open so people could, you know, I think it's that on the ground, community mentorship and a personal practice.
Those are the three pillars for me that build a new way of life, whether that's a person or a community practice and mentoring learning from someone who inspires you. So I would say those are, those are three things that I would focus on.
That's amazing and I know this next question I like to ask just for fun. I know you've talked about so many things that you have learned or are learning, so I'm just curious we're all lifelong learners, every guest seems to be really excited about that development and that growth. Um So I'm curious to know what something you have been learning about lately. It could be related to education or it could be anything.
Yeah, I well I'm getting ready to facilitate co facilitate of course with an artist friend of mine that is called reimagining work in zombie culture.
So we're doing that.
Isn't that amazing with teens could be offensive, I understand, but welcome. so what I'm reading right now is the myth of Icarus and I'm also reading the Icarus deception by Seth Godin.
So if you're looking for a little bit of strength and like chutzpah to really step into your life, I would suggest the Icarus deception by Seth Godin and then maybe read the myth after or before. But but it really speaks to how it's our birthright to live the life that we came here to live and and it's just really yeah, really inspiring and I don't know when this will air, but if anyone's interested in that reimagining work in zombie culture, I've put out a call on linkedin to adults who are not offended by that, but who are really interested in who are either leading the life they want to live because I'm looking to bring in examples of people who are really engaged in like really meaningful, risky work in the world. And also an opportunity for adults to learn like if they don't know what I'm talking about, there's also room for adults to learn more about that through this course, So that's another option.
Yeah, but I'm loving it.
That is super cool. How fun and what a creative name, I love creative names and I think you shared some websites already where people can go to learn more information. Is there any other places that people should be able to go to connect with you or to connect with your school or anything we've talked about today.
Sure. So people can go um, to springhouse.org. That's well you, you'll learn all about Springhouse there and then to learn about the design. Like I said sourceddesign.org. Springhouse is on facebook. Springhouse is on LinkedIn. I think we're Twitter and Instagram too. We are definitely on those things. And you can find me on LinkedIn too, I'm there.
Awesome. Thank you so much Jenny for being on the podcast.
Thank you so much Lindsay. This has been such a pleasure. Thank you for doing the work in the world that you're doing. Thank you so much.
Thanks for listening amazing educators. If you loved this episode, you can share it on social media and tag me @lindsayblyons or leave a review of the show.
So leaders like you will be more likely to find it to continue the conversation. You can head over to our time for teachership facebook group and join our community of educational visionaries. Until next time leaders continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Lindsay is a educator and leadership coach who helps teachers develop engaging project-based curricula, fosters student and teacher voice, and works to advance racial and gender equity and culturally responsive practice.