Getting Back TO WHY, Pt. II

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Where part I dug into why Co-CreatED disappeared for a year,
part II gets to the root of why Co-CreatED began in the first place and why any of it matters.

 (PS… *Bonus!*  Stay tuned for Part III–  Get a free tool to help discover your own unique Why, and craft a Why statement for your organization, school, or classroom)

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​WHY CO-CREATED BEGAN IN THE FIRST PLACE

On June 28 of last year, I wrote:

Hey Facebook. Gotta ‘quick’ life update for you…
So a lot has changed over the past year. I made two significant career moves— ventured out of my beloved Cloverleaf bubble after nearly 6 years to try to make change in the public education world, then took about 7 months to realize that change would be even harder to make than I had thought.

Cloverleaf showed me what great education looks like, and I wanted to take that learning on a larger scale and share it in the public school world. I thought coaching teachers would be a step closer to the classroom, a step toward making an impact on the teaching/learning side of the school instead of the business side that had been sucking the life out of me. It didn’t quite work out that way.

One thing hasn’t changed and never will— I still want education to be better and to serve more kids well. That’s still my life’s work and mission. It’s just time to approach it from a new angle.

During this year of career transition and soul-searching,
​a quote from one of my life heroes hit me right in the gut:


I got suckered into this notion that you have to be a part of an institution in order to change that institution. But I’ve discovered there’s this other option. Creating something new– that’s the 3rd way. There’s the silence, then there’s the anger (like, ‘I’m taking down this institution!’), then there’s a third way— CREATE A BETTER INVITATION.” 
                 – Glennon Doyle Melton, on The Good Life podcast

Enter: Co-CreatED. My third way, my hopefully better invitation.

With the help of two amazing colleagues, we’re launching our website! Our humble beginnings so far are a blog and a meetup group. From here, we’ll be growing toward consulting, training, and more as we work to humanize education and create systems of equity for all.

The path to learning is co-created.
Thank you for being part of the journey!


Fast-forward to present day, and another reason got added to the list of why to try a totally different approach– a year of returning to the classroom in a progressive independent school setting. I was back in touch with the lived experience of a teacher, and I was immersed in the stark differences between public and private school. Teachers deserve better. Students deserve better. Our society deserves better.


​So the big WHY…
Why Co-CreatED?

To make education better.

To make education better for more kids.

To make education humanizing and equitable for all students.


That’s it.  THAT is the why.

Break that down… what does “humanizing” mean?

humanizing experience honors one’s humanity: it means being treated like a whole person, as an individual with unique worth, with needs that deserve to be met, with a life of value. When school is a humanizing place, students feel seen and known. Their needs are met, their voices are heard, and they feel they belong. When education is a humanizing experience, students grow in their agency, in the fullness of their own humanity. They self-actualize; they discover their power and passion, then use them to impact the world.

Conversely, a de-humanizing experience denies one their humanity. It is when people are treated as less than human. It is factory-model education, where students are treated as empty vessels to be filled up with an externally-determined dose of knowledge, cranked along the assembly line in 180-day batches of age cohorts, then run through the testing ringer, to be spit out the other end as passing (moving on to the next rung of the 180-day conveyor belt), or failing (re-wound to the start of their same 180-day conveyor belt to try again. Apparently the vessel didn’t quite get filled enough.) Students’ developmental needs are ignored (read: play time ever-shrinking, testing time ever-growing).

Which version sounds more common in today’s education landscape?

And what about the “equitable” part?

Equitable is often confused with equal. Equal is everyone getting the same thing; equitable is everyone getting what they need. Schools have to take into account that not everyone has the same starting line, and not everyone is aiming for the same finish line.  However, the starting line shouldn’t determine the finish line. That is to say, where you start in life shouldn’t be a sentence to where you wind up in life.

A first step to understanding equity is accepting that privilege is a thing. Start here.

Next, equity recognizes that differences exist based on many factors— and even the layering and intersections of those factors– and that those differences result in inequities, injustices, and imbalances that must be acknowledged, addressed, and corrected. Celebrate diversity; fight inequity.

Finally, answer this “riddle” posed to me by a professor during grad school:

If you could only look at one document to predict a student’s future success in life, which one would be the most indicative?  

    A)   Their IQ test 
    B)   Their GPA/ transcript
    C)   Their standardized testing score report

​Correct answer? None of the above.

Drumroll…
That document would be…

Their parents’ tax returns.  (See: herehere, and here.)

That’s a daunting reality, and school is only one piece of a highly complex puzzle surrounding the income gap and economic mobility in America.  But if we really want to disrupt the deeply-entrenched poverty cycle, equity in educational access would be a pretty decent lever to pull.

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​WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Just imagine… let yourself dream wild and big for a moment…

  • What if education really was the great equalizer? The thing that levels the playing field and closes the gaps?  

 

  • What if– regardless of zipcode, SES, race, or ability– ALL students reached their fullest potential, thanks in large part to their school experience?

 

  • What if private schools didn’t even have to exist because public schools were serving all children well?

If those “what-ifs” came true, we’d be living in a completely different world.  That stuff matters massively.

Education touches every last one of us– everyone has to go to school. Education is the one and perhaps only key to changing the world.  

Fixing school has the power to fix several equity gaps:  

  • Better education → better outcomes → less poverty → better society.
  • Anti-bias education → less racism/sexism/ableism/{X}ism → better society.
  • Empowering education → active, engaged citizens → better society.
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In Closing

I’ve worked in schools serving students from poverty, and schools serving students from affluence; schools serving neurotypical students, and schools serving neuroatypical students; schools serving mostly students of color and schools serving mostly white students.

There’s not a single one of them who wouldn’t benefit from a co-created education.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. Let’s get to work.

 (continued in part III)
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Now you know our why…

What is YOUR why?


Up next in the three-part series on Getting Back To Why:
Part 3) What’s YOUR Why?

Discover your unique Why, and craft a Why statement for your organization, school, or classroom

​*Coming Saturday June 22*

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