Pen Quarterly Journal Summer 2019

Page 1


The Quarterly Journal of The Progressive Education Network

Summer 2019

EDUCATION MUST... amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.

EDUCATION MUST... encourage the active

IN THIS ISSUE Greetings from PEN


learning, in their communities,

NIPEN 6.0 Mission Hill


and in the world.

Progressive Education is a Place of Possibility


The Crucial Paradox: Education and Liberation


What Progressive Education Means to Me


Interview with Sunil Singh


on their social, emotional,

Forest Friday at High Meadows School


intellectual, cognitive, cultural,

Reflections On A Celebration of Life


Remembering Chris Collaros


PEN 2019 Twin Cities


Conference Schedule


natural curiosity and innate

Imaginative Inquiry


desire to learn, fostering internal

National Conference Sponsorship


Support Pen


Submissions for Future Issues of PEN


participation of students in their

EDUCATION MUST... respond to the developmental needs of students, and focus

and physical development.

EDUCATION MUST... honor and nurture students’

motivation and the discovery of passion and purpose.

EDUCATION MUST... emerge from the interests, experiences, goals, and needs of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference. EDUCATION MUST...

ON OUR COVER: On our cover, images from the Twin Cities, our location for the PEN 2019 National Conference, scenes from the spring NIPEN 6.0 gathering at Mission Hill School in Boston, and a “Life Badge” from Chris Collaros’s memorial service in April.

foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships between students, educators, parents/guardians, and the community.


Newsletter Design by Julie Winsberg

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world

GREETINGS FROM THE PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION NETWORK! Hello PEN Community! We hope you are enjoying a restful and rejuvenating summer - whether that means you are relaxing with family and friends, engaging in professional learning that reinvigorates you, deepening personal learning to recharge, traveling to new places to broaden your perspectives, or traveling to old places to reconnect to your roots. Or, you may be still be working - in education or in another field. Like our board members, you may be doing all of these things! This is the first issue where we are exploring themes that we hope will recur in future journals. These themes emerged from our hopes and dreams as a board about how continue to evolve as a network. The themes are: “REFRAMING THE PROGRESSIVE PANTHEON” We know that the historically well-known famous names in progressive education are often White and male. We also know that there are so many other educators who have thought progressively, but may have not had their work highlighted or specifically connected to the progressive movement. Acknowledging that the piece is in this issue is authored by White male educators Craig Kridel and Bill Ayers, our goal in this section is to introduce and amplify the work of progressive educators whose stories have not been told as broadly. Our hope is that this section will be a space for the wide diversity of progressive education experience. We are grateful for Craig’s research highlighting work from Black progressive high schools in the 1940s. “CONTEMPORARY CONTRIBUTIONS” We want to highlight current educators who are forwarding and expanding the ideas of progressive education, aligned with our PEN Principles. Board member Sven Carlsson had the opportunity to interview Sunil Singh, who is a fantastic progressive math educator and author of Pi of Life: Hidden Happiness of Mathematics. “PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE” In addition to well-known voices past and present, we know the meaningful work of progressive education happens everywhere around the world in individual classrooms. We want a regular space for all progressive educators to share their good work, and allow others educators to learn and expand their repertoire from you. This issue, we asked for contributions that highlighted our 5th educational principle: Education must emerge from the interests, experiences, goals, and needs of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference. We will highlight the same principle for two issues in a row, so get your next submissions ready! This issue we are happy to highlight the work of Rebecca Drage (NIPEN class of 2015) and Shannon Hostetler’s Kindergarten/1st grade class at High Meadows School in Roswell, Georgia. “WHAT PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION MEANS TO ME” We want to also be a platform for individual educators to share their own reasons for why they love progressive education. We hope to be a resource for those who want to grow as progressive educators, or individual educators in schools who want their colleagues to help transform their entire school into a progressive environment. This issue we introduce you to Californian educator and filmmaker Francisco Aviles Pino. We want this to be YOUR journal and feel like the collective publishing of YOUR voices. We hope these themes help provide many opportunities for our large network to share their ideas. Lastly, we are heartbroken to share with you that our beloved Board Secretary Chris Collaros passed away from cancer in April. We miss Chris so very much, and our heart goes out to his wife Sharon, his three daughters, and his school community at Wickliffe Progressive. We are including a tribute to Chris, including an update about his growing scholarship fund, in this issue. We appreciate you all being part of our extended family. Sunny Pai, Board Member Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 3

NIPEN 6.0 Mission Hill — by Theresa Collins, NIPEN Director The 6th cohort of NIPEN wrapped up with a wonderful immersion at the Mission Hill School, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Mission Hill was founded by Debbie Meier in 1997, and has been most recently led by Ayla Gavins. Cohort members enjoyed a tour provided by students, a panel of educators, a special conversation with Ayla Gavins and a captivating hour or so with Debbie Meier, who encouraged us to think about democratic education, school community, and the notion that schools should be less about “covering things” than “uncovering things”. Final presentations of learning revealed the way that NIPEN helps educators create their own personal definition of progressive education that is unique to each person and which reflects the deeply rooted history, current principles, and the promise that progressive education is about the whole child, teacher as guide, and bound up in democracy, equity, justice and community. We are especially happy to share the work of Jane Belton and Nancy Lim in this issue. You will notice the words of Chris Collaros, PEN board member and Institute leader, were printed on the back of the t-shirt that all participants received upon completion of the 6 days. (see top right image)

NIPEN 6.0 T-shirt with quote from Chris Collaros

We are grateful to Heather Schilling (PEN Board member and NIPEN 3.0 alum) for her assistance with the workshop, Ayla Gavins and the whole MHS community for hosting us. We enjoyed Boston and want to shout out the vendors who took care of us while we were in town: the Revolution Hotel for providing us with great lodging, JP Seafood for a delicious and fun opening dinner, City Feed & Supply, Fiore’s and La Taqueria for wonderful breakfasts and lunches and all of the schools (see list below) who supported teacher attendance at our institute. We are working on details for NIPEN 7.0 (to be held in late winter and spring of 2020), so please stay connected for more information! LREI (Little Red Schoolhouse/Elisabeth Irwin)

Wickliffe Community School Christa McAuliffe School Francis W. Parker School Capitol Hill Day School Catherine Cook School Wildwood School Clarion School, Dubai, UAE Presidio Knolls School St. Clement School Blue Oak School


Debbie Meier engaged the cohort in a thoughtful conversation about democracy in education

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION is a Place of Possibility - by Jane Belton I wrote this poem inspired by my experiences as part of NIPEN Cohort 6.0 and by my work with students and colleagues at LREI. I arrive at teaching English because of my love of language and my firm believe that words have the power to transform us, individually and collectively. So I thought a poem would best serve as a statement of my commitment to my students and progressive education — all that I will continue to aspire towards as a progressive educator.

6.0 Cohort members gather before saying goodbye to each other and Mission Hill

Progressive education is a place of possibility & agility but also a place of deep responsibility to ensure each child has a seat at the table, to see each child as able. It’s a process of collective liberation and self-actualization where teachers & children have voice & choice where learning means to rejoice where together we must wonder inquire blunder inspire listen construct take a stand & disrupt. Where we use the heart, the mind, the pen to become engaged citizens Where dreaming and failing go hand in hand with reading, writing and feeling. It’s student-led discussions where they ask the questions It’s projects that tackle systems of oppression It’s language that has power to divide & connect mirror & reflect guide us in how to live or change the narrative

Mission Hill Principal and PEN Board Member Ayla Gavins

It’s ten kids standing with a friend facing deportation it’s where immigration is examined along with mass incarceration. Where kids have a stake in what they say & what they write where books help kids figure out what’s right. Where we look inward & outward at the world & ourselves & diverse stories occupy the shelves. Progressive education is a place of possibility & responsibility -- for equity democracy liberation & self-actualization.

An articulation of progressive education by cohort member Steph Shieh

To cultivate hope No joke.

more on page 6

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 5

NIPON 6.0 continued from page 5


Close up of acrostic definition of Progressive Education by Nancy Lim

Jane Belton (LREI) at work composing her spoken word poem

Cara Murphy, Ryan Zaremba, Kara Piccirilli listen to Debbie Meier

Nancy Lim (Christa McCauliffe School) presents her final project, an acrostic- style definition of “Progressive Education

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

NIPEN 6.0 Certificates of Completion

Mission Hill faculty panel

Mission Hill mantra: Be Kind, Work Hard

Cohort members hard at work on final projects

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 7

The Crucial Paradox: Education and Liberation Becoming an African American Progressive Educator: Narratives from 1940s Black Progressive High Schools (2018) Edited by Craig Kridel Complimentary e-publication distributed by the University of South Carolina Museum of Education at Museum of Education

— Reviewed by William Ayers Imagine if you were selected to participate on a planning commission to envision and design a school system for the children in a newly-formed community. Here’s a unique opportunity to dream large and to create something beyond habit and the easy assumption that the way things are is just “the way it spozed to be.” Where would you start? Think big. What would you propose first? And then what? It’s a wide-open space, a huge and empty canvas, so think even bigger. I’ve asked students from urban public high schools to small rural boarding schools to take a moment and go a little starry-eyed with me: If you had the power to upend and reform anything in your school, I’d say, anything at all, what would you change? A few irreverent students get easy laughs from their comrades with a quick response: “I’d fire Mr. Ashton,” or “I’d ditch the National Anthem and have kids hookup a new mixtape on the PA every morning to get things started right.” More typical responses include things like better food in the lunch room, or longer passing periods between classes, or more holidays and a school-schedule that begins at, say, 10 am. These reform suggestions, sound and satisfactory on their face, strike me as fatally stuck-in-the-mud. I’d said, “Storm the Heavens!” “Change anything!” and the tepid response: better baloney in the cafeteria. A difficulty, perhaps, is that the basic anatomy of “school” is such a fixed idea in our minds, a structure and a skeleton that’s entirely predictable and fundamentally immutable. Asked to alter anything at all, our imaginations stall and then shut down, and our ideas amount to a rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic type of reform. We have a tough time escaping the prison of received wisdom and conventional thinking. School is, well, school after all—we shrug our shoulders, palms up in surrender. I often think that in order to move forward we need an ice-axe to break up the frozen sea within. Craig Kridel’s Becoming an African American Progressive Educator is one such ice-axe—a wholly original antidote to numbed aspirations and anemic dreams. Kridel’s dazzling accomplishment here is two-fold: he uncovers a hidden chapter in the long history of African Americans struggling for education and liberation, resurrects the voices of teachers and students who set out to create a vibrant, propulsive educational experience worthy of a free people; and he presents these stories in their original form with their sense of urgency, exhilaration, and immediacy intact. The accounts of school innovation and teacher transformation emanate from segregated schools in the southern US in the mid-twentieth century, and yet the lessons feel both compelling and accessible. Because the narratives are entirely contemporary, and can be deployed to address whatever issues the reader is pursuing—restructuring schools, reconsidering the notion of “cooperation,” rethinking the foundations of experimentation and evaluation—this is a book that might wake us up, shock us into new awarenesses, open our eyes to things not-yet-considered. Craig Kridel’s work for decades has focussed on the Secondary School Study, an action-research (or more accurately, “implementative research”) project conducted between 1940-1946 and sponsored by the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools for Negroes (ACSSN). That study encouraged educators


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

in 17 African American schools in the southeast to guide their efforts with an abiding faith in the capacity of learners to grow and develop as whole people with rights and responsibilities and agency; to emphasize democracy as a living, participatory classroom and school practice and not merely an abstract idea; and to experiment with innovative applications from experiential learning to cooperative studies. In this volume, Kridel gathers three “service reports,” each a remarkable collective effort produced by a group of educators attempting to capture their faceto-face conversational approach to school change, their process of dialogue, problem-posing, and question-asking. Returning for a moment to the fanciful community planning commission I began with, imagine someone kicking off the conversation by proposing that school funding be vastly uneven, and that one school should be offered a new state-of-the-art campus, generous resources and fantastic materials while another school just down the street would be housed in an abandoned warehouse with broken windows and a busted furnace. The commission members might begin looking at one another uneasily, shaking their heads in mild disbelief. “Wait! There’s more!” In one school class size would be limited to fifteen, while in the other it would be allowed to balloon up to forty or more students per teacher. What? And how the schools would be strictly segregated by class and race and family income—the wealthy school overwhelmingly white, the under-resourced schools mostly Black or Latinx. Commission members are moving steadily away now, and why? These are, after all, the schools we’ve always known, the system as it actually is. “Come back! You haven’t heard the best parts yet, the bits about how students of the privileged get a curriculum of question-asking and problem-posing, while the others are monitored obsessively and disciplined with a high-tech electronic management app, and how compliance is guaranteed—any deviation from the rules or procedures and the misfits will be immediately forced from school. And about how we will measure inputs and outputs and cognitive growth at the end of each day. Why are you all leaving?” In a free society education must be both public and democratic—this is essential to the creation of democracy’s public spaces and humanity’s culture of community. The right to a free and public education, for example, is enshrined in every state constitution in the United States, a prestigious standing not granted other aspects we might include in our sense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—housing, for example, employment, or health care. That right is also encoded as Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dreaming big is never simple—we are entangled and weighed down by the heavy chains of uniformity and conformity, silenced by the rigid authoritative voice of convention. Because we live day-by-day immersed in what is, the world as such, imagining a landscape much different from what’s immediately before us requires a combination of somethings: seeds, surely, desire, yes, effort, of course, always effort, idealism and romance, maybe, necessity and desperation at times and a vision of possibility at As one Secondary School Study other times. Occasionally what’s required is the willful enthusiasm to dance teacher mentioned, her school out on a limb. That’s exactly what the teachers profiled in Becoming an (Staley High School in Americus, African American Progressive Educator—some reluctantly, others more Georgia) “was highly segregated enthusiastically—did. and any term that implied the idea of ‘progress’ was dangerous. So we The obsessions that characterize American classrooms today—especially did not use the term ‘progressive urban classrooms and schools attended by the poor, recent immigrants education.’ We did not have to­— from impoverished countries, First Nations peoples, and the descendants we lived it every day. We provided of formerly enslaved people—are simple: the goal is obedience and education for the mind, the body, conformity, and the watchword is control. These schools are characterized and the soul and attended to the by passivity and fatalism and infused with anti-intellectualism, dishonesty, needs of the whole child- personal and irrelevance. They turn on the little technologies of constraint, the interests but also community needs” elaborate schemes for managing the fearsome, potentially unruly mob, the (Westbrook, 2011, quoted in Kridel, 4)

knotted system of rules, the exhaustive machinery of schedules and clocks

more on page 10 Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 9

THE CRUCIAL PARADOX continued from page 9 and surveillance, the laborious programs of regulating, indoctrinating, inspecting and punishing, disciplining, censuring, correcting, counting, appraising, assessing and judging, testing and grading. “We must not let young people in America grow up to think they have no responsibility for planning, though too often schools have left the planning to teachers and not asked children to share. We must have our children practice this kind of democratic living until it is a part of them. They will have to learn that thinking is hard, and that many times it is necessary to read or examine all sorts of things to find out what has already been done.” (From Lincoln High and Elementary School faculty, The Evolution of Susan Prim, as quoted in Kridel)

How do centrally-generated standards and an extensive testing regime, for example, or eliminating the arts, or replacing career teachers with a steady parade of short-timers specifically in urban and low-income areas— all “reforms” that the schools of the privileged manage to avoid— improve education for each and for all? Alas, schools always reflect and reveal larger social/cultural/economic/political/historical realities: if you know something about any particular society, you can predict with some confidence the shape and structure of its schools, and if you look closely at the schools, you will see a likeness of that society—an ancient agrarian village apprenticed its young for full participation in the rustic world of agriculture and animal husbandry; schools in a theocracy preached faithfulness and piety and devotion; apartheid South Africa built beautiful palaces of learning and small state-of-the-art classes for white kids, and overcrowded, dilapidated, and ill-equipped classes for the African kids.

Any dramatic change in society will necessarily echo in the educational arena, just as struggles to change the schools will ripple out into the larger society: schools serve societies; societies set up schools—one side of that duo can’t shake or shift impressively while leaving the other standing entirely still. It makes sense, then, that schools based on free inquiry or unrestricted engagement have been consistently closed down in countries dominated by orthodox religious authorities, or that for decades alternative schools built on cooperation and respect, for example, have always had a terrible time surviving within a larger social context of cut-throat competition. The ethical heart of one is in mortal combat with the driving force of the other. James Baldwin said it clearly in his now-famous “A Talk to Teachers” in 1963: Now the crucial paradox which confronts us here is that the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society. Thus, for example, the boys and girls who were born during the era of the Third Reich, when educated to the purposes of the Third Reich, became barbarians. The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The truth is that schools are a natural site of social upheaval and serious contestation—they are where we ask ourselves profound questions about what’s worthwhile and what constitutes the good life; they are where we imagine a future; and they are where young people gather to discover their own ways forward as they (metaphorically perhaps—but who knows?) put the society they inherited on trial. Becoming an African American Progressive Educator can help to speed the plow. Supplemental material: Kridel, Craig (2015). Progressive Education in Black High Schools: The Secondary School Study, 1940–1946. Columbia, SC: Museum of Education. Available for free download at Direct link to full text (227 pages) here


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

What Progressive Education Means to Me — by Francisco Aviles Pino Like many educators at the start of 2017, I had to change the way I did my engagement with students. By this time, I had several cohorts of students that I coached and supported as a youth organizer for the Orange County Congregation Community Organization. We helped pass local to state initiatives and even raised the number of registrants in one of the most conservative counties in the country. Yet when I started the year in 2017, there was a yearning in young people for a different approach to organizing, one that I knew existed in other cities but didn’t know was fully possible in my own county. Throughout my teenage and young adult life, I gravitated to the arts in order to heal from the experiences of family separation through the border and incarceration and to heal from my own experiences with drug and gun violence. Poetry, film and music overall gave me both the mirror and platform to see what I was going through and even imagine a better world for myself and my community. By the time I was a youth organizer, I shared these experiences with my students. In January of 2017, my students asked if we could do more poetry in our organizing circles. Yet, the priorities of the grants I was working under didn’t explicitly warrant the space to do this. Through conversations with my ED, funders and friends who were already doing this work I found the middle ground of meeting grant needs while serving students with what they needed. I found myself at the Poetry Foundation and Poetry Incubator where artists who are also organizers like myself gathered together to share ideas and resources to bridge both of these worlds that in history weren’t separated. We even ended the incubator through hosting a poetry block party! The needs of students became then a priority for me in developing workshops and intentional relationships with partners we worked with. Organizing for policy then became a more intimate and collaborative process that didn’t just ask students to show up to meetings and get large numbers of turn out. We pushed for policy yes, but students also read the works of Audre Lorde, Sandra Cisneros and Eve L. Ewing—people who teach us that caring for each other in the work of liberation is necessary. I transitioned out of OCCCO in the summer of 2018 in order to grow in my aspirations of impactful storytelling. I’m currently an Outreach Fellow at Brave New Films following the lead of Impact Producers that are creating content and engagement materials for media. I’m leading the effort of creating materials and relationships for and with organizations and educators in the months to come that will go along with the content of Brave New Films. The work I’m doing now is still grounded in what my students asked me to do, prioritize them.

For information on the materials in development, please feel free to contact me at

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 11

Interview with Sunil Singh — by Sven Carlsson Sunil Singh was a high school math and physics teacher for 19 years. He has taught every grade level, and in every situation imaginable - from the socio-economic challenges of urban schools in Toronto, Ontario, to an International Baccalaureate School in Switzerland. His views on the purpose and potential for learning mathematics have been strongly fostered in this wide domain of experiences - that all students are capable of loving mathematics. Sunil has viewed mathematics as an adventure his entire life, and now mathematics is providing adventures for him in writing and traveling. He has given over 50 presentations on creative mathematics all over North America, including The Royal Conservatory of Mathematics in Toronto and The Museum of Mathematics in New York. His interactive Family Math Nights have taken him as far as Austin, Texas. He is the author of Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics and Math Recess: Playful Learning in an Age of Disruption.

PEN BOARD MEMBER SVEN CARLSSON INTERVIEWED DR. SINGH about his thoughts on progressive education. SVEN: Which PEN principle(s) is (are) most meaningful to you and why?

Sunil Singh

SUNIL: Examining all the PEN Principles, it was thankfully challenging to extricate a couple out that resonated with my deepest ideas of math education. I say “thankfully”, because all the Principles are so well braided together, that they represent a tapestry of ideas that are deeply interconnected in the goals and aspirations for the future of education. However, there were two that are aligned to my vision and goals of math education. That one, the purpose of learning mathematics is to maintain thirst for inquiry, and that curiosity for mathematical thinking and reflection is a lifetime pursuit. In fact, while this might seem progressive, it is not. When math education was first being drafted in the United States, its goal was much wider than it is now in terms of focusing on STEM careers. Initially, math education’s goals centered around having an informed and enlightened citizenry. Now, it seems that learning mathematics is focused on technological, economic, and social advantages—a much narrower and less healthy domain for learning mathematics. A lifetime of curiosity and personal delight for mathematics is something which is aligned to one of PEN’s Education Musts—honor and nurture a student’s natural curiosity to learn [PEN Principle #4]. However, mathematics, like many other interests and hobbies in our world, brings people together. In fact, for me, the learning of mathematics has a new social terminus now. That the highest and most satisfying reasons to learn mathematics is to, believe it or not, make friends. Just like when we go to music festivals, we are there to enjoy the music for ourselves, but also to share the moments with others. That is what makes those lifetime memories. Mathematics has the same potential, to be a conduit to connections with others and better understanding of all the different people who grace our lives. So, the PEN Principle of fostering critical and collaborative relationships with the entire educational community [PEN Principle #6] is also a “must” in how math education must be reconstructed—to celebrate and promote transmission of ideas, thoughts, and questions with all those who are curious about mathematics.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

SVEN: What is the implication for the future (of America, of Canada, or of the world) if schools achieve the vision articulated in the PEN principles? SUNIL: All the PEN Principles are prefaced with “Education must…” This is critical as it strongly indicates that all the ideas forthcoming is non-negotiable. So, as the great writer Kafka once said, “There is a point in which there is no turning back. That point must be reached.” PEN’s Principles echo a similar statement. That these goals represent the future and hopefully everlasting ideas about the education of all children, regardless of their social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. Schools that merely work towards these principles will have collectively signed on to the most ambitious visions of schools this century. Schools that achieve these visions will be lauded by education communities everywhere as beacons of hope. Schools that can sustain these visions and help schools near and far becoming exemplars of PEN’s Principles will be the disrupting trailblazers of the deepest and most achievable hopes and dreams of educating our children for the future. We invite you to read more of Dr. Singh’s ideas on mathematics education in Abolishing Sven Carlsson

Grades Is The First Step to Better Mathematics.

Excerpts from Abolishing Grades Is The First Step to Better Mathematics When I was a high school teacher — some days I think I quit because marking drove me bananas — I used to bring up at math meetings why Knowledge, for example, can’t be 28% instead. Everyone looked at me like I had two heads. But then these same people would have heated debates about not bumping up the grades of kids two percent… Hollywood couldn’t make up better irony as a script for educational horror/malpractice. All my tests were, if possible, even for senior grades, one 8 x 14, double-sided piece of paper — to help disarm/lower their anxiety. I always had remakes/retests/redo’s/etc. All my tests were generally out of 40. For the final exam, I would tell kids that anyone who gets a higher mark on the exam, that would be their final mark. That kind of thinking isn’t revolutionary. It’s like common sense. Shouldn’t a mark — as errorfilled as it is — attempt to be as up to date as possible? If a student got 66 on a test on fractions and then gets 83, you shouldn’t average them — the 83 represents current understanding. And even with all my allowances, I knew that their final grade would be an incorrect way to punctuate their course. Even if they got a 95, it would give a false sense that they are closing in on knowing everything in math. Nothing could be further from the truth… I am a pretty good cook now, but I don’t “average” my cooking ability with when I was burning toast. It’s all about what I am able to do now… But, let’s not try to save grading/marks. It’s a dog’s breakfast when it comes to assessing and evaluating our students. Assessment should be to improve learning, give rich feedback, provide a course of action, etc. WITHOUT the demoralizing and carrot-driven effects of grading. The most egregious display of statistical tomfoolery is the final exam, with a weighting of usually 25 to 30%. You know, a 5 to 15 page final hurdle to punctuate the spiritless trek through mathematics. But, it wouldn’t be interesting if the final exam didn’t go out in a blaze of pedagogical contradictions.

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 13


Students Develop Problem-Solving, Collaboration and Empathy, While Co-Teachers Build Trust and Partnership — by Rebecca Drage (NIPEN Class of 2015) and Shannon Hostetler A treasured part of the week for our Kindergarten/1st grade class is Forest Friday, when we spend most of the day in the campus forest learning, exploring, and building our classroom community. Students problem-solve, collaborate, practice reading, use math to count firewood, and build their gross motor, confidence, and empathy skills. As a bonus, we have developed a strong, trusting teaching partnership as we meld our ideas, approach, and experience to guide our students’ learning in the forest. We started Forest Friday a year and a half ago to connect students with the outdoors and to engage them in meaningful, nature-based learning experiences. We initially took short trips to the forest, then began to hold most of our Friday classes there. We’ve learned many things through trial and error, with students as part of the process. We have overcome obstacles as they’ve arisen by remaining flexible and brainstorming solutions as a class. BUILDING OWNERSHIP AND EMPATHY We start Fridays by putting on clothes needed for the weather and packing lunches and water bottles into our Forest Friday backpacks. We soon head out on the 15-minute hike to our forest classroom where students stock the nurse station, build a campfire, help put up hammocks, and settle in. They really feel an ownership there and work together to take care of the space they helped plan, design, and set up. Because of that, we do less problem-solving for them in the forest than we typically do indoors. For example, they use their empathy skills and feel empowered to help others. If they see someone has gotten a scrape, they understand what it feels like to be in need. They go to the nurse station and determine what’s needed to help the classmate such as hand sanitizer, tissues, and the appropriate size bandage. It’s rewarding to see them handle it. COLLABORATING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS On Forest Friday, students work together on a project they select, such as building a fort, unclogging part of the creek, or building a dam. They collaborate to figure out what’s needed to accomplish their project and how to make it happen. When challenges arise, they are more motivated to work through them together to find the best solution because there’s no easy fix. We’ve seen incredible growth in their stamina, perseverance and desire to learn, along with the powerful classroom community that is being built. Kevin K. was a first grader in our class last year. He now encourages others to take action from what he learned in the forest. “I liked building camp fires, building forts, and cleaning out the stream,” he said. “If you can’t have empathy for the environment, then you can’t understand how living beings like trees and plants suffer and die because we cut down forests. I cleaned up trash in the stream so animals wouldn’t eat it and die and then other animals would eat them and die. I thought it was important, and I couldn’t do it alone. I learned you won’t last long in the wild on your own - you need your friends.”


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

LEARNING ALONGSIDE STUDENTS Forest Friday has strengthened our teaching relationship. We each brought a set of ideas, background, and experience to our classroom. Working together, we developed a new set by trusting each other and collaborating. It’s like stepping into the realm of our students and learning alongside them. The joy, wonder, and connection to nature that happens on Forest Friday are essential parts of the academic, social, and emotional learning experience for our students – and us. We end the day with a compliment party in our tipi, which also builds empathy and connection. It’s amazing to see the ways we have grown and connected as a classroom family.

About the contributors: Rebecca Drage (NIPEN class of 2015) and Shannon Hostetler co-teach a Kindergarten/1st grade class at High Meadows School. High Meadows school is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian school in Roswell, GA with an emphasis on learning through inquiry and experience, making meaningful connections, embracing diversity, and stewarding the natural environment. A nationally recognized and award-winning leader in progressive education, High Meadows School is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School offering its renowned Primary Years Programme. Visit:

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 15

Reflections On A Celebration of Life — by Andrew Williams, Wickliffe Teacher, NIPEN 5.0 Alum

It was us. It was Chris. It was how it should be. As I drove away from the Celebration of Life of Chris Collaros at Darby Dan Farm, past a pair of giggling 2nd graders who had discovered the PERFECT bush to turn into a fort, that was my serene sense. Family, friends, Wickliffe students, alumni, and others with a connection to the incredible community that Chris joyfully fostered and inspired gathered to spend time together in remembrance of him. The sun peeked through clouds, and we basked in the warmth of our shared memories of the man who led Wickliffe for the past 11 years. Together we sat, ate, joked, played, created music, chalked, danced, rolled down hills, laughed, and fought bad guys with braided balloon swords. “Wagon Wheel” played by an alumnus, “Octopus’ Garden” and “If I Had a Hammer” led by 5th graders on a ‘ukulele, stories, and bubbles filled the air. Flashes of Chris showed up right and left: in a memory, in the face of a family member, but mostly in shared compassion for each other, the strength of the community that he built with us and we now carry on. Chris believed that, fundamentally, education is about building connections. That “school is much more than marching toward college and career readiness. It is as much about seeing the connections, cultivating compassion and civility, and understanding what it means to be part of a community.” And that is what Sunday was. It was a celebration of Chris’ life. But it was also a chance to celebrate the community that we have, that Chris guided, and that we now get to carry on as his legacy.

It was how it should be. It was Chris. It was us. As of this printing, 77 donors have contributed to the Chris Collaros Memorial Fund, which will be used to support educator attendance at PEN sponsored professional learning events. The total so far is over $8910. Thank you to all who have made a gift!


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

PEN Board ‘hand contract’

Remembering Chris Collaros — Theresa Collins On the PEN board, Chris was our secretary. Together we revised history, reshaping a set of educational principles first authored by the likes of John Dewey himself. It is undoubtable that his work helped to ensure that progressive education will continue robustly into its second century. There is the work, which is important, but then there is the way that he embodied the work in every single gesture, wholly, authentically, in every moment, connecting us, urging us on. We loved dreaming new directions for PEN with Chris; He fed our bodies, minds, and our hearts. We loved the soup and spanakopitas that he made for us, loved when he brought his guitar, loved sharing a cold IPA at the end of a great work session. Chris’s energy and expertise in leading learning was an inspiration. Working with Chris on NIPEN was a pure joy-- planning and creating content for our cohorts of Chris leading closing web activity at NIPEN 4.0

educators. Though we spent much time reading, thinking, writing, discussing and observing progressive education, what I love best about NIPEN is Chris’s closing activity, as it speaks to his dedication to creating and celebrating community.

Holding a ball of twine, Chris would share a reflection on our time together. Then, holding one end of the twine, he’d roll it to another participant, who would contribute their reflection, then, holding their piece of the twine, roll it to another participant, creating a massive connected web. When we finished, Chris invited us to marvel at the network we created, and then step toward each other for a “Texas Squeeze”. It’s a simple, powerful, clear symbol, this web. And it serves as a simple, powerful, clear reminder: it is in the creation of networks where we can realize our potential and power as a force for change in the world. That is what Chris brought to Wickliffe as its principal, to PEN as a board member, and what he brought to NIPEN as the best co-teacher I have ever worked with. Chris championed the person and the community; that beautiful partnership between the parts and the whole. NIPEN 4.0 Cohort at Open World Learning, St. Paul, Minnesota

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 17


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

Progressive Education NETWORK

PEN 2019 TWIN CITIES Educating for Democracy: Navigating the Current and Channeling the Future of Progressive Education THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA - TWIN CITIES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3 School Site Visits, Opening Reception & Panel with ANDREA JENKINS







facilitated by MPR’S ANGELA DAVIS

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4 Morning Featured Speaker PAUL GORSKI


CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY! PEN 2019 INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP REGISTRATION RATES Individual: $350 | Conference Presenters: $250 | Single-day attendance: $110 | Student: $75 Teams of 5-9: $250 per person | Teams of 10-24: $200 per person | Teams of 25 +: $165 per person


Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 19

PEN 2019 TWIN CITIES Conference Schedule THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3

8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Registration Open (Coffman Hall)

9:00 - 9:30 AM

School-Based Site Visit Gathering

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

School Based Site Visits (various locations)

6:00 - 6:45 PM

Opening Reception (Ted Mann Concert Hall)

7:00 - 8:00 PM

Opening Panel (Duchess Harris, et al)


8:00 AM

Registration Opens (Coffman Hall)

7:45 - 8:30 AM

Breakfast (MacNamara Hall)

8:45 - 9-45 AM

Opening Keynote Paul Gorski

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Resource & Book Fair Open


10:00 - 11:30 AM

90-minute Workshops (various classrooms)

10:00 - 1:00 PM

180-minute Workshops (various classrooms)

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Place-based/Immersion Workshops (various locations in the Cities/on campus;

most will include lunch)

1:00 - 2:15 PM LUNCH

(participants on their own to enjoy!)


2:30 - 4:00 PM

90-minute Workshops (various classrooms)

2:00 - 4:30 PM

Open Space (McNamara Hall)

5:00-7:00 PM

Happy Hour hosted by PEN (McNamara Hall)


7:30 - 8:15 AM

Morning Mindfulness w/Mind-Ed, RiverWalk, Yoga (various West Bank meeting points)

8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Breakfast/Registration (Humphrey)


10:00 - 11:30 AM

90-minute Workshops (various classrooms)

10:00 - 12 NOON

Open Space, Mind-Ed drop in

12 NOON - 1:00 PM

LUNCH (Carlson Atrium- provided by PEN)

12 NOON - 3:30 PM

Bookstore Open

1:15 - 2:15 PM

Closing Keynote Bettina Love

2:20 - 2:45 PM

Announcements for PEN 2021, Conference Closing


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

IMAGINATIVE INQUIRY at Catherine Cook School

Kelli Dawn Holsopple, Jessie Kirk, Elaine Chu, and Ella Moran, directors of the Institute for Imaginative Inquiry

“I thought the Institute for Imaginative Inquiry was a gas — Many moons ago, I worked on a degree which included studies in creative drama, storytelling and children’s theatre, but most of the people were theatre majors, so this institute was really important for me personally because the enthusiasm I shared was with other educators. Every time I have come away from a PEN experience, I am renewed and invigorated. With each PEN experience, I have met amazing educators who inspire me. For those opportunities, I will always be grateful.” ~ Hilarie, Imaginative Inquiry Participant (Aldo Leopold School) “Education can make us whole” ~ Christopher, Imaginative Inquiry Participant (Plato Academy) History doesn’t belong to the books in which it resides. History is something to be discovered and uncovered through artifacts, conversation, imagination, and primary sources. At the Institute of Imaginative Inquiry, it is the job of educators to bring back the collectivity of history. During this unique immersion workshop, educators experience a yearlong curriculum in 4 rich and enriching days. Drama encourages participants to inhabit the themes, tensions and questions of history; primary sources provide voices, experiences and information from the past; prompted by the institute facilitators, educators respond to and pose their own questions about historical events in the “New World” community of New Amsterdam. At the Institute for Imaginative Inquiry, History as a tool for understanding the past becomes a powerful force for students to imagine creating a future that is more just, equitable, sustainable, and community minded. With dramatic exercises, primary sources, “artifacts”, conversation and creation, history becomes a multifaceted active experience that invites students to be historians and to step into a rehearsal for real life community engagement. We thank the Catherine Cook School for hosting this year’s workshop!

Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 21

SUPPORT PEN: 2019 National Conference Sponsorship Opportunities SUPPORT THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTITIONERS OF PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION by sponsoring a portion of the 2019 PEN National Conference, Twin Cities. If you’re interested in partnering with us by being a Sponsor or participating in our Resource Fair, please indicate the items below you would like to offer, and send this information to Rosemarie Ndupuechi, our event manager, at PEN is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

PROGRAM ADVERTISEMENT RATES Sponsors who purchase ads in the conference program will be listed on the PEN website, in addition to having a full-color advertisement of the chosen size. Sponsors who purchase banner advertisements and larger will get one free 6 or 8-foot table at the Resource Fair.

Please provide PEN with a high-resolution (300 dpi), 4-color JPEG or PDF for print advertising. We will convert for the website. Please email all images to Deadline for ad submission is August 20th.





Back Cover of Program (1 available)



Inside Cover of Program (1 available)



Full-page advertisement (4 available)



Half-page advertisement (8 available)

7.75x4.75 H or 3.75x9.875 V


Banner—across top or bottom of page (4 available)



Quarter-page advertisement (8 available)



Business card/eighth page advertisement (8 available)


RESOURCE FAIR TABLE RATES Sponsors with table space at the Resource Fair will be listed on the PEN website and on the map of the resource fair space.






$20 flowing linen, $25 fitted linen

Deadline for table registration is August 20th.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

Some of the ways your donation supports PEN: •

Planning and executing our next national conference

Creating and publishing this journal & other digital communications

Keeping our dynamic website up and running

Supporting our professional development workshop (NIPEN) & Independent Workshop Series (Institute for Imaginative Inquiry)

+ Support PEN with Autumn Swag! Show everyone what a progressive educator looks like with swag featuring our cool new logo! Makes a great gift! All purchases go toward the 2019 Fund for Access, helping more educators attend our National Conference and NIPEN. Visit and purchase one or two or five!

Thank You! Summer 2019 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 23

Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world

SUBMISSIONS FOR FUTURE ISSUES OF PEN: The Journal of the Progressive Education Network We are particularly interested in curating pieces that explore, illustrate, or critically interrogate the mission, vision, and/or educational principles of The Progressive Education Network that inspire our collective work. In the Fall 2019 issue, we will foreground the second of our Educational Principles: Education must encourage the active participation of students in their learning, in their communities, and in the world. Submission guidelines & topics, we intend to include a regular series of features in the journal including: “PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE” Featured articles engaging our featured Educational Principle above “REFRAMING THE PROGRESSIVE PANTHEON” Archival material and/or critical essays foregrounding the contributions of progressive educators and theorists of color to progressive education “CONTEMPORARY CONTRIBUTIONS” Featured pieces that foreground the contributions of an influential, contemporary progressive educator and explore her/his contemporary practice “WHAT PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION MEANS TO ME.” Short essays from students and from classroom-based educators articulating personal commitments and/or experiences (~500 words) “PRINCIPLES IN ACTION” High-resolution photos from your work in schools, accompanied by extended captions (~100 words). The deadline for submissions for the Autumn issue is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019. Please provide written submissions as word.doc files. Please upload high-resolution images to Google Drive, Dropbox or Box, and share a link with us. Please direct all submissions to 24

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Summer 2019

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.