Last week I spent four days in Orlando, FL collaborating with a dozen other folks who are working with Agile practices in Education at the Scrum Alliance Global Scrum Gathering. Most of us met for the first time on Sunday morning, then the group almost doubled in size on Monday, adding even more new faces to the mix. We accomplished a lot in 3 days. We were able to:
- get acquainted
- share some of the work we’re doing in our respective projects
- analyze our individual and collective strengths in the collaborative process
- explore common values and principles threaded through our work
- write a collective manifesto for what Agile in Education represents
- evolve said Manifesto into an ‘Agile Education Compass’ (better metaphor)
- design a visual representation of said Compass
- compose a succinct introduction to the content of our Compass
- present and share the whole thing at the Open Space
- inspire others around the conversation of Agile in the education space
We all left feeling really good about what we created together, but more importantly we left feeling connected to each other — and, to the larger change that we are working to bring about in the world.
Some of the people I worked with had met each other briefly or worked together in some capacity, but most of us were strangers when we began. For me, this all started by seeing and eventually connecting with John Miller on Twitter, who was doing work with public schools under his brand — Agile Classrooms. John connected a bunch of human dots and last September set up a call for us to all meet. It’s pretty prevalent for folks in the Agile community to be really excited about the concepts they’re working with, because they’ve probably directly experienced some level of personal or social transformation from engaging with them. In our group, it felt like there was even more excited anticipation, as we all recognize the big problems in Education and the really savvy solutions that Agile can provide.
After our call in September we made some action steps. John really liked the idea of getting us together to see what an Agile Education Manifesto would look like and how it could advance our common goals. Not too much longer we landed on meeting in Orlando in April after John was able to get Scrum Alliance on board with supporting us. We have felt a lot of gratitude for John and the way he held this intention throughout the year and did what needed to be done to bring us together. Thanks, John!!
I did have some reservations — or cautiousness — about this event and what it would produce. I was definitely excited for it and really interested to get to know everyone, but I was a little uneasy about whether or not we would find alignment around what Agile really means in the education space. For one thing, I was representing the radical end of the spectrum here — ALCs are designing outside of the current system, which fully removes us from any curriculum or cultural constraint that the industrial education model may otherwise impose.
What was really amazing for me, was that my concerns wound up being completely dissolved by the second day. Of course, there was, at times, creative tension among us in the group — but never did I feel like, “Oh man, these people just don’t get it”. In fact, the opposite was true. While there are significant differences is the degrees of creative autonomy the students may have in our schools, it was clear to me that everyone I worked with really understood what kids are truly capable of, what they really need, and how an ideal educational experience would be fully self-directed and self-organized.
It felt great to show up as my authentic self and hold the pieces of this work that I believe to be so important and to have others who not only recognized and appreciated my convictions, but passionately embodied their own.
While ALC is committed to showing “another world is possible” as we create in our open sandbox, I absolutely understand how essential it is for others to be bringing these ideas directly into the system that we all want to replace. I believe for major change to occur in Education, people need to see effective solutions happening all around them. Elements of those solutions need to brought into the current system to create more spaciousness for students and teachers — to allow them to really access their agency for the first time. Simultaneously, we can be building ALCs and other innovative schools from a foundation of complete composability and creativity.
Ultimately, I believe in a world without “school”. I believe we can have living learning communities in our towns and cities that are self-directed and self organized — completely tapped into the resources that exist all round us and within us. To get to something like that we have to pry back the blinders — we have to give people access to themselves and to different language that is inherently co-creative.
I was so happy to meet and work with these brilliant, big-hearted people who believe in giving students (and adults!) the trust that we all need to start creating the world we want to live in.
*Gratitude bow* to you all:
- Arno Delhij
- Guido van Dijk
- Mark French
- Erin Horn
- Marmy Kondras
- John Miller
- Martin Peters
- Robert Rodenbaugh
- Krissyn Sumare
- Mike Vizdos (facilitator)
- Marian Willeke
- Willy Wijnands