Author: Matt Karlsen

Jan
17

Who teaches us how to live in democracy?

In his column this week, David Brooks writes, “this year, we’ve been so besieged by Donald Trump’s shriveled nature that we sometimes forget what full and courageous human life looks like.” In response, he introduces us to John Stuart Mill, who he says “demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance […]

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Dec
12

You get new ideas everywhere

At last week’s community gathering, the Willow Classroom of fourth- and fifth-graders shared the story of The Very Cranky Bear.  After reading the book, they asked, What messages does this story offer? Where do you see examples of these ideas in your life? A said, “Think about what everyone really wants.” R said, “Ask someone’s perspective first.” […]

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Dec
04

Pedagogical approaches and their political implications

Opal School led professional development workshops in Vancouver, BC last week. They were rich opportunities to connect and develop new ideas with educators in a region that has been inspired and transformed by Opal School’s work. Our second day’s session focused on play, the arts, and education for democracy.  Before considering the role that play […]

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Nov
06

Courageous and Collaborative Communities: A report from the workshop

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. Brené Brown Last week, we hosted the first of this year’s Opal School Visitation Days workshops. This one brought together 70 educators from diverse contexts – pre-k and elementary, rural and urban, public and private, multilingual and […]

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Oct
23

Courageous and Collaborative Communities

Last week, I split my time between two groups.  The first half of the week, Opal School hosted a Study Tour for a school from Miami Beach.  On Wednesday, Susan and I went to Juneau, where we spent the remainder of the week working with another school staff.  These are radically different demographic contexts: Other […]

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Oct
13

Coming soon to Office Depot

At this week’s Opal School staff meeting, we continued our research into invention education (see earlier posts here and here). We decided to start considering the inventions children might create into three big buckets: Systems (Amy brought up all the games children invent as part of PE; this card game is another example) Art and other […]

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Oct
01

Casting a line toward invention

As Susan wrote in her recent post, Opal School staff gathered Wednesday to discuss their observations of times when children were being inventive. I was in a group with Caroline Wolfe, who described her observations with our youngest learners in Cedar classroom. At a fundamental level, she explained, the children in Cedar are inventing what […]

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Sep
24

Writing curriculum

A new post at Cadwell Collaborative responds to a familiar request: Will you write the curriculum for a new Reggio-inspired school? The post thoughtfully responds that the request cannot be fulfilled.  We make that road through walking. While there are known guideposts to help orient that path and great tools to have in your kit, […]

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Sep
12

Focusing Our Intentions for a New Year

It’s a time of reconnection at Opal School.  A little more than two weeks ago, Opal School staff reconvened.  Last week, students returned.  Tonight, we welcome parents for Back to School Night. Back to School Night holds different schema for all of us.  As a parent, I’ve felt inspired and connected by some – and […]

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Sep
05

Coming together anew

To be open to others means to have the courage to come into the room and say, “I hope to be different when I leave.” – Carlina Rinaldi Opal School families returned today, encountering spaces full of life. They found invitations to form new connections and communities with each other, with ideas, and with the […]

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