Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Compasses for navigating labyrinths

Compasses for navigating labyrinths

I imagine that, for many of you, the holidays included time for reconnection, reflection, and play – and lots of reading.  I found myself immersed in the varied and layered traps of “civilization” that people across time and space find themselves enmeshed in.  The challenges Cora, Yeong-hye, Alexander, and all of us face are varied – and their efforts to find agency that leads to transcending these trappings equally so. Opal School exists to transcend (transgress?) the trappings of schooling.  How can school be a site for playful inquiry?  A place for “we” and “I”?  A system that embraces the aesthetic dimension?

As we engage in these question, we look to how others face similar ones – in contexts as diverse as the characters in the novels I mentioned.  Another book I had the pleasure to dip into over break is Joi Ito and Jeff Howe’s WhiplashWhiplash articulates nine organizing principles for navigating these tumultuous, revolutionary times we are living:

  • Emergence over Authority
  • Pull over Push
  • Compasses over Maps
  • Risk over Safety
  • Disobedience over Compliance
  • Practice over Theory
  • Diversity over Ability
  • Resilience over Strength
  • Systems over Objects

It’s a provocative list.  While Ito and Howe aren’t writing about early childhood and elementary schools – and I think that their vision of what those principles might look like in the classroom probably look pretty different than Opal School’s – I think it’s a set worth considering.

Where does your school land in these pairings?  What about the schools your children attend?

How does this list sit with you?  What would you push back against? What might you add?