As the end of July approaches, kids, parents, and teachers become increasingly aware of the Back-to-School sticker on the late-August (or early September) calendar. Though of course it’s sad to think about summer ending, for many of us the start of a new school year brings hope and optimism. Kind of like New Year’s Day. A fresh start. Possibilities. New ideas.
That’s where I’m at today. Today I received the gift of a two-hour conversation with two lovely and intelligent women about education. We discussed so many things: What could education look like if the rule-book was tossed? What kind of school would kids be excited to attend? What education practices would engage and compel forward-thinking teachers and administrators? What if we could design a school that was child-centered instead of curriculum-centered? What if it were really up to us to create an educational model that was truly special and honored the individuality of each child?
I think of this as an art project. When I start a new painting, I imagine what it may look like in the end, and work to make it as beautiful as my mental picture. I imagine where I might like to place it in my home – the colors and textures of it, the size and scope. And then I just do it. I create the art piece, hoping that one day it will grace the walls of my home and make my home a better place. Sometimes my art turns out exactly as I had hoped. Sometimes it doesn’t quite make the cut. That’s part of the deal. Trying something new means you put yourself out there.
One has to dream before one can begin to create. Dreaming requires risk and vulnerability. It requires being fresh and new and innovative. Sometimes it will work out exactly as you hoped. Sometimes it won’t. But it definitely won’t if you don’t first pick up the paint brush.
Fueled by our energizing conversation, I committed myself today to creating a new art piece. This one will be a painting of words: a vision of an ideal school – one which I would like my own children to attend. Over the next few months, I will be creating a document outlining what that school would look like – how it would be structured and driven, what its values would be, and its goals. I have of course talked at length in my blog about my hopes for a refreshed education model (examples, I should mention again that are being carried out already in many schools across the nation). Now I hope to put all these thoughts into one fluid narrative, telling the story of a school which respects and nurtures our children as individuals throughout their academic careers, and prepares them with the intellectual and social skills they need to become self-directed young adults in our rapidly changing world.
Of course I’m preparing for my new year of homeschooling too, and I will continue to share our stories here. But I wanted to officially invite you, readers, to join in on this project, sharing your own thoughts and vision for a brighter educational future. Think of this as our community mural.