Yesterday, a few hundred of Tacoma’s civic-minded adults (including its mayor, school district representatives, early childhood folk, business and non-profit leaders, children’s museum staff and university folk) thought about building a child-centered community. The Symposium on our Youngest Citizens was something I hadn’t seen before and extended my idea of what is possible in 2014 America: Adults who don’t work in professions focused on young children gathering for three hours and discussing their image of children and how they might extend it.
Attention to working with children – not just for them
A call by a business leader to creating an educational stystem that imagines children as naturally joyous, curious, and collaborative: one that not only thinks outside the box, but questions the origins of the box itself
An interest in a city guided by interactivity, imagination, exploration, and whimsy
Ben Mardell sharing stories of projects in Reggio Emilia, Boston, and Providence that mutually engage and benefit cities and children
Alfie Kohn asking how we might reach out to help people to deeply question the role of children in society – and how to parent and teach to develop that capacity
The person sitting next to me asking, What if all adults had a child mentor?
I was surprised to encounter this in Tacoma. Should I have been? Is anything like this happening in your city?
Our work at Opal School seeks to transform public education by starting with an image of the child as capable, competent, creative and collaborative – as a full citizen with rights and ready to make vital contributions to the world today. Yesterday, I was challenged to see that thinking about public education – a domain that seemed pretty big the day before – is too small: That my neighbors may be ready to shift our attention to making a city that serves all of its citizens, regardless of age.
Who is ready to follow Tacoma’s lead and join us for a conversation about how to turn Portland into a child-centered community? Expect to hear from me soon if you don’t call me first.