Asking what matters in Ojai

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I had only a week between returning from summer travel and resuming school responsibilities, so I was ambivalent about giving up two days to meet with a group of educators about something very idealistic like “building a movement for change.” But it was worth it. 

There were only about fifteen of us at the Krishnamurti Center in Ojai, representing school founders and leaders, teachers, youth workers, data consultants, and parents. There was one thing that bound us all together: the idea that schools need to change. How? As it turned out, we had a lot more in common. 

During one exercise we each arranged 35 cards, representing what schools try to teach, in five groups from least important to most important. We had to choose between big ideas like “appreciation for mathematics” and small ones like “correct spelling.” How does one rank such things? 

In the ensuing discussion, I suddenly asked, “How many of us ranked ‘Developing a strong sense of self’ as most important?” Slowly everyone around the table raised their hand. After a few more exchanges, we found that another item had also appeared at the top of all of our lists: “Relating to other people.” With all of our different backgrounds, we knew that somehow these two goals hold paramount significance for our students. 

Two years ago the Transformative Education Network began with the idea that teaching and learning is fundamentally about changing perceptions about oneself and the world. Our meeting in Ojai has taken us a step forward.

Theodore TimpsonComment