Author: Matt Karlsen


The election, politics, and young children

In this election season, many of us are energized to deepen both our political advocacy and our pedagogy. I believe that we all need to be highly politically involved right now, whether that involvement is inspired by our commitment to children’s present and their future, or our responsibility as Americans, or our understanding that Black […]


Playful Inquiry and Politically Charged Topics

This post comes from our colleague Ben Mardell and is also posted on the Pedagogy of Play blog. Persistent and pernicious racism and inequality. Hurricanes and wildfires of historic proportion. A pandemic that is increasing poverty and causing famines. Incredibly serious issues whose consequences young people will not only confront when they are finished with […]


An ecology of listening

“What’s the thing that most people miss above all? It’s just the chance to be gregarious, to be with other people. Human beings are socially evolved primates. It wasn’t that many generations ago that we were sitting on the floor of the Savannah picking lice out of each other’s fur. So, it’s hard to be […]


The Max MacKay Rule: Decision-Making in the Time of COVID-19

These last days have come at us hard and fast. As we continue to respond and adapt, all of us at Opal School hope that we can continue to serve as a resource to your efforts to grow and thrive. Yesterday, I received this from our friend Ben Mardell. While it’s not the kind of […]


Making biases visible

Last week, families gathered to discuss how work currently happening at Opal School supports knowledge and dispositions central to social justice and global citizenship. Families heard short stories from each of the classrooms to explore those connections.   As we continue to grow into this work, we feel it’s important to do so in conversation with parents […]


Visitation Days 2020: New Models for Friendship

Last week, nearly 100 educators from around the world gathered at Opal School to uncover principles of Playful Inquiry and imagine greater opportunities for learning in their unique settings. You can get a hint of the experience in these participant voices: Amazing, insightful, inspiring, game changer. It has shown/taught/offered me a new way of being […]


When your light goes out

Weekly, the Opal School elementary community starts its day with a community gathering. It’s a time when all four classes, along with many family members, come together in the theater to sing some songs and hear about what new ideas are sparking. The Cottonwood Community of kindergartners and first-graders led this week’s gathering. They sang […]


Book Club: Inventology, Parts 3 & 4

I hope that you’ve been enjoying reading Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World – and that the Framework for Inspiring Inventiveness has been helpful in connecting the ideas Kennedy is exploring to the school experience. I proposed a flow for our conversations here. The entry for Introduction and Parts One and […]


The Danger of The Guillotine

For the second year in a row, Opal School hosted a “Rising Educators Study Tour” for high school students who study approaches to early childhood education and apply that learning in a school-based center.  It’s a rare treat for us to learn with people at that stage of life. As we often do, we spent part […]


Discussing a Framework for Inspiring Inventiveness

A group of educators from around the world gathered in a Zoom room with Mara Krechevsky, Ben Mardell, Susan MacKay, and me to explore the resources we recently published. You can view the full conversation here. During the conversation (and in the chat box), many suggested how they might apply the framework elements (Principles, Practices, […]