The Peripatetically Published Journal of The Progressive Education Network - Spring 2020

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The Peripatetically Published Journal of The Progressive Education Network

Spring 2020

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

EDUCATION MUST... encourage the active participation of students in their learning, in their communities, and in the world.

EDUCATION MUST... respond to the developmental

IN THIS ISSUE Greetings from PEN


PEN 2019 CONFERENCE: A Reflection


Bettina Love


Paul Gorski


Love Out Loud Essay


on their social, emotional,

What Progressive Education Means to Me


intellectual, cognitive, cultural,

Jo Jo the Puppet and Progressive Teaching


The Speed of a Slug


Tools Humans Wield




natural curiosity and innate

#PENgagement 2020


desire to learn, fostering internal

Support PEN


Submissions for Future Issues of PEN


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

Scenes from PEN2019 and Christa McAuliffe School, host of NIPEN 7.0

of diverse constituents, fostering empathy, communication and collaboration across difference. EDUCATION MUST... foster respectfully collaborative and critical relationships

Newsletter Design by Julie Winsberg

between students, educators, parents/guardians, and the community.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

GREETINGS FROM THE PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION NETWORK! Hello Beautiful PEN Community! So much has changed since we last published an issue last summer, or since we gathered at the University of Minnesota in October for a lovely and rejuvenating national conference. We are huddled around screens, connecting with our students via emails and video chats, finding creative ways to keep together the carefully knit bonds of classroom communities. We’ve quickly become experts in educational apps, carved out makeshift workspaces in our homes, and juggled our own family and personal needs. We keep reminding ourselves, “This is not normal life. This is a pandemic.” We hope you are all being gentle with yourselves during this time. We had planned most of this issue for you already, so we are sharing what we have. We invite you to send us your ideas for how you have kept the principles of Progressive Education alive virtually for our next issue. In this issue, you will find four wonderful pieces from progressive educators sharing their own take on what is “progressive.” We love being able to feature all your good work around the country and collectively create “What Progressive Education Means to Me.” Thank you Becky Bob-Waksberg, Ann Douglas, Chris Kruger, and Frank Mosca for generously sharing your work. We also check in on our wonderful NIPEN cohort (National Institute of PEN) and their visit to the Christa McAuliffe School in Saratoga, CA and recap our National Conference. Lastly, we celebrate our Love Out Loud contest student winner, as we continue to think of our dear friend, colleague, and Board member Chris Collaros, who passed away about a year ago. We want to welcome Andrew Williams to our National Board, who teaches 5th grade at Wickliffe Progressive Elementary outside Columbus, Ohio. A longtime active PEN participant and NIPEN alum, Andrew brings a rock solid belief in empowering youth through progressive teaching. He also happens to be a highly skilled baker, which anyone who has tasted his creations will immediately appreciate! We welcome back founding Board member Kate (McClellan) Baker to emeritus status. Kate recently retired from classroom teaching after twentynine years in progressive early elementary education. She is pursuing her second master’s degree to be able to serve families in Chicago as a family counselor. Both Andrew and Kate represent public schools in our network and we are glad to have their viewpoint. Especially during this time, more than ever, we are grateful to convene such a thoughtful, hopeful, and visionary network of educators. We keep saying, these are strange times indeed, but also we encourage all of you to look for the opportunities that may emerge during the coming months to rethink, reimagine, and reinvigorate education. May we all experience connection and community through our work. Sunny Pai, on behalf of the PEN Board

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PEN 2019 CONFERENCE: A Reflection — by Theresa Collins, Board Member PEN chose the Twin Cities for our 2019 conference for a variety of reasons: the diversity of schools and students; the achievement and opportunity gap that exists there; the beautiful fall weather; a return to the midwest after two wonderful conferences on the East Coast, and our first time hosting in partnership with a university. Once again, hundreds of educators crossed the country, timelines and even international airspaces to gather with folks who work every day to deliver the best in progressive practice. The conference has always been a space of energy, ideas, connection, and the ever elusive element that we cannot make more of: time. With the time we had, however, PEN 2019 accomplished much. Our conference included featured events with education practitioners who pushed our thinking and inspired us to action: our opening panel of Minnesota education advocates included The Honorable Andrea Jenkins, Honorable Justice Alan Page, Ms. Kamie Page, and Dr. Marika Pfefferkorn. Facilitated by MPR’s Angela Davis, the panelists discussed education gaps and opportunities in MInnesota. Paul Gorski opened the conference on Friday morning with a rousing call to action entitled “Who’s Progressive?/Whose Progressive?: How Inequity and Injustice Persist in Progressive Schools and What We Ought to Be Doing About It ”; Local poet Julian Randall graced us with a poetry reading and lively talk back; Dr. Bettina Love closed the conference on Saturday afternoon with ”Abolitionist Teaching”. Educator and student-led programming always makes up the bulk of our conference, and we are so grateful to all of the presenters who shared their insights, expertise, and modeling of best practice with colleagues. With 90-180-minute program sessions, school site visits, 4-hour immersions on the U of M campus and in local spots around the Cities, the variety of experiences PEN 2019 provided was rich, diverse, and, we hope, enlivening and inspiring. 4

Opening night panelists Kamie Page, Marika Pfefferkorn,

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

The Honorable Andrea Jenkins

Opening Night Reception at Ted Mann Hall, sponsored by the Bush Foundation

If I think back to the early meetings when the planning team landed on our theme: Educating for Democracy, Navigating the Current, Channeling the Future of Progressive Education, I still feel inspired. Here’s why: progressive education can be a constant navigation of routes: how do I set the conditions for optimal thinking and learning and skill integration in my classroom? What does it mean to call myself a progressive educator, or our schools progressive schools? How do I channel my pedagogy, much less my energy, in directions that will allow for the best flow-- of ideas, community building, joy; and what future channels will be discovered because of the endeavor? Our conference has always had simple, powerful goals: to connect educators; to amplify the best in progressive pedagogy and practice; to inspire and call to action. After Dr. Love’s talk concluded, the team for PEN2021 took the dais to announce that we will gather next in Seattle, another first for our conference, as we’ve never hosted in the Pacific Northwest. I know that I look forward to the special touches that the local planning committee will put on the next event; Stay connected to PEN-- before we know it, we’ll be sending out save the dates and calls for proposals, and we’d love to have your participation.

continues on page 6

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PEN 2019 CONFERENCE continued from page 5

PEN 2019 participants and NIPEN Alumni reconnect

Poet Julian Randall reads from his award winning

at the opening reception

collection, Refuse, at Saturday’s opening session

Students from Cary Academy (NC) present their

Dana O’Brien & Kirk Larue lead their workshop,

workshop: STEP Into the Future: Student Engagement

Using Improv to Create Braver Classrooms

and Activism through Organization


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

Lia Woo, head of The Hanahau’oli School, presents on their

Paul Gorski addresses the conference

Entering Teacher Cooperative

on Friday morning

Faculty from the Francis W. Parker School and The Hanahau’oli School discover their schools’ shared history as they connect at the Friday evening happy hour

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PEN 2019 CONFERENCE: Bettina Love — by Jaime Danen On Saturday, October 5, Dr. Bettina Love, award winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia came to close out our week of Educating for Democracy on the beautiful University of Minnesota - Twin Cities campus. Dr. Love brings with her a dynamism and radical approach to education that looks to reimagine and rebuild our current educational system. Using a progressive mindset, understanding critical race theory and dismantling the mysticism of underserved populations, Dr. Love called on us all to question and reevaluate our current educational system that not only denigrates students of color but profits on the reinforcing of the idea that students of color matter less than other students. As she spoke, she reminded us of the importance of ensuring that the stories and environments we surround our students with reflect them and not what they are used to seeing in current educational settings. She spoke of cultural movements that have occurred and the value of using them in classrooms, but reminded everyone that you must fully understand and believe in what you teach. She warned about using teaching as a way to sympathize and elevate students of color. She said teachers need to understand that way of teaching undermines and devalues the student. They do not need saving from themselves, they need an educational system that values and respects every part of them as human beings. Dr. Love was quick to educate the audience about events, movements, people and policies while also calling everyone to action. Hers was not an emotional appeal, it was an insistence that we become better

Don’t hurt our babies

educated on the things that impact all of our students. She knows and understands the history behind what she teaches and wants those who are listening to become scholars and educate themselves beyond just knowing the basic facts, but to truly understand the basis of important

cultural movements. She told us that we cannot truly teach about the Black Lives Matter movement without fully understanding it and, most importantly, believing in it. Giving lip service to movements that “feel good” is more damaging to our students and must end.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

Finally, she appealed to us on the most basic of levels. She said we must stop hurting the babies. The facts that she shared about the rates of discipline and arrest of our students of color and the inequity in comparison to their white peers, reiterated the mantra of “don’t hurt our babies.” It’s an appeal that every person has to take heed and find ways to stop this hurting in our educational system. Perhaps we cannot tear down the walls and rebuild schools so they are no longer pipelines to prison, but in each of our classrooms and our spheres, we can find ways to legitimize, understand and value the stories all of our students bring in and find focus and attention for the students of color who live every day in a society that fails to do this. Dr. Love’s plea to not hurt the babies, must be what we insist upon for all of us and all of our schools.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jaime Danen is a middle school English Language Arts teacher at Aldo Leopold Community School in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She has been a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow since 2016 and serves as a facilitor of the Holocaust Institute for Teacher Educators which aims to help future teachers in their roles as Holocaust edcuators. She served on the planning committee for the Progressive Education Network National Conference in 2019. Additionally, she works with a local educational organization developing and delivering leadership coaching for principals, administrators, staff and students. Jaime’s email

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PEN 2019 CONFERENCE: Paul Gorski Be a Threat to Injustice Everywhere — by Sunny Pai, Board Member

Identify the injustice, eliminate the injustice. That’s equity work.

Last October, at our National Conference in Minneapolis, Paul Gorski (founder of EdChange and the Equity Literacy Institute called on all of us to be a threat to injustice. He named the many ways in which we “dance around” doing equity work - by holding diversity celebrations or by engaging in initiatives such as mindfulness or restorative justice that help marginalized students cope with being marginalized, rather than rooting out the systems that keep them marginalized in our schools. He spoke in direct language:

Identify the injustice, eliminate the injustice. That’s equity work. If we are to challenge inequity in our schools, Dr. Gorski gave us four critical abilities to work on: • • • •

Ability to RECOGNIZE even the subtlest biases and inequities Ability to RESPOND to biases and inequities in the immediate term Ability to REDRESS biases and inequities in the long term Ability to CREATE AND SUSTAIN bias-free and equitable classrooms, schools, and institutional cultures

As I listened to Dr Gorski outline these four critical abilities, I thought about my own journey, and the enormous work it takes to increase my ability to recognize subtle (and overt) biases and inequities. As an Asian person who is privileged in almost every way other than race (gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc), I am miles further down the road on this journey than I was ten years ago, but there is still much ground to cover. We can always learn more about the experience of people who are marginalized in ways that we are not. Training ourselves in this recognition is a lifetime of work. White educators must learn to recognize subtle racism. Cis-gender people must learn to recognize transphobia. Men must learn to recognize subtle sexism. This is important work. Recognizing inequity alone will not create justice. We must learn not only to respond powerfully and effectively in the moment - Dr. Gorski noted that in addition to the knowledge and skill to respond, Recognizing inequity we must ensure we have the will to respond - but also to redress biases and alone will not inequities in the long term. By this, he meant we must deeply inspect our create justice. institutional biases and constructs that caused us to have inequity to begin with. He said, “When you change an inequitable policy, don’t just change the policy but also ask the question: What is it about institutional culture that got us to this place where we have these inequitable policies and practices?” This is redressing biases and inequities in the long term, in our schools and in our lives.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

Dr. Gorski shared that in all his extensive school visits, he asks marginalized groups of students when they experience injustice. Consistently and unfailingly, their response is, “every day, multiple times a day.” The only way to address this heartbreaking response is to deeply examine our systems and root out the inequities existing in our institutional culture that continue to allow these transgressions to live on. This is not a time to be carefully deliberate in our work. Dr. Gorski said: If you’re taking baby steps around equity and justice, what that means is that you’re prioritizing the safety and comfort of the people with the least amount of interest in equity and justice over the people with the most desperation that we make some progress around equity and justice… so enough with the baby steps. We cannot have this conversation about racism in a way that is structured to take care of the feelings of White people. The truth is, if you’re doing racial justice right, there are going to be White people who feel like they no longer belong in your organization - and that is a gift to your organization. In most schools, it is actually harder to be an outspoken anti-racist, than it is to be a racist. That is a failure of leadership. If that’s true in your school, if the people who are the most outspoken about racial justice issues feel more marginalized in your institution than the people who are dragging their heels around equity and justice stuff, that is a failure of leadership. The people dragging their heels, they should literally feel marginalized. “Maybe I don’t belong here.” They should feel like that. Unfortunately, what happens too often, is the people who are most outspoken about these issues start to feel like, “you know, I’m not sure I can survive here.” When we get to a point where the racists, or the homophobes, or the transphobes, or the ableists, whoever say, “I don’t know if I can survive in this institution,” that’s when we know we are making some progress. We don’t get to justice through peace and harmony. We don’t get to justice through prayers and positive feelings. We get to peace and harmony through justice. If peace and harmony are leading and justice is taking a back seat to that, you got it backwards. Having the expectation that people who are experiencing being marginalized in our institution - that they’re gonna want peace and harmony - that is an oppressive belief to begin with. As he said, every one of our schools may be doing good work, but every one of our schools also has marginalized students who are feeling ways in which our schools are inequitable every day. Let us be energized by Dr. Gorski’s work and be hungry to gain the four abilities for equity literacy. Let us not wait until students share these experiences with us, but be proactive in gaining the knowledge, skills, and will to create schools where equity is a top priority.

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Love Out Loud Essay — by Dillon Wiles, 5th grade, Wickliffe Progressive Elementary I went to Wickliffe for all of my elementary years. At Wickliffe, we value community, compassion, and civility. We call that the 3C’s. I have made a lot of community, compassion, and civility memories. Wickliffe gets the whole school together every other Friday. On Friday’s a lot of teachers share some examples of times when students show community, compassion, and civility. I am going to share three of my favorite memories from my Wickliffe experience. My first memory is Golden Star Choir. Two of the Wickliffe staff run Golden Star Choir. They teach us the songs then we practice them. When we finished practicing the songs there would be a show. I remember when Mr. C would sing songs with the Golden Star Choir on the day of the performance. He would not just sing he would also play the guitar. Whenever he would sing it would put a smile on your face. Golden Star Choir always brings our community together. My second memory is when I was in kindergarten and when I was in first grade. Dillon Wiles and Board Member Andrew Williams On the first day of school, I would cry because I didn’t want to leave my parents. Then someone named Evie would come up to me and convince me to go into the classroom. She What wonderful news it showed me compassion. Which made me start showing other people was to hear Dillon’s writing compassion. was honored for the Love My last but not least memory is of meeting my best friend Will. Will Out Loud Essay Contest. has Down syndrome, but I don’t think any different of him. I do Wolf A student like Dillon is so Pack. Wolf Pack is a group of students that gets together and learns deserving of this award. how to be a friend to students. My job for wolf pack is to walk Will in She is kind, empathetic, a and outside from recess. Will likes to play hide and seek, play baseball, hard worker and always eager and he also likes to have playdates. I learned from Will that everyone to learn. I am hoping she will is different in their own way. embrace more opportunities like this to proudly share her I am extremely glad that I went to Wickliffe. Especially because I met incredibly huge heart and my best friend Will! I learned from Will that everyone is different in knowledge to others. their own way. I learned from Evie to always be open to help someone Shawna McEvoy Dillon’s Teacher Wickliffe Progressive Elementary


and show compassion to others. Mr.C taught me how important community is. Those are a couple of memories from my Wickliffe experience.

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

What Progressive Education Means to Me — by Chris Kruger To me, progressive education differs from traditional education in both the tiniest and yet the most profound way. Oftentimes, when discussing these differences, we focus on the scenery, differences in how a concept is presented or how it can feel to teach or learn in that discipline. These conversations are useful, but I think these conversations miss the point. Progressive education is far more transformative and radical than these surface differences. For traditional education, the goal is commodification. The commodification of knowledge, of experience, of children themselves. Children are not the purpose of traditional education, they are the product. The goal is to create standardized and graded (like an egg or a road) human machines, ready to be slotted into the larger economic apparatus that is industrialized capitalism. Students are assessed, sorted, and channeled into jobs designed to suck value from them like juice from an orange. In progressive education, there are neither students nor education. Not because students don’t matter, because they do. Not because content, material, curriculum, all of these things are unimportant; they are the core of all we do. No, in progressive education there are no students, just a student. A child that must be approached on their own terms, at their own pace, to their own ability. No general education exists to be doled out in standardized dosages to faceless students. Instead, progressive education recognizes those tools and ideas which help each individual student flourish. Progressive education is radical. It’s subversive. It’s a threat to the status quo and our best chance to make the world a better place. Progressive education is liberation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chris Kruger is a teacher at Plato Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois. He has taught pre-kindergarten through middle school and loves all of them. He feels education is best approached holistically and that teaching students to ask the right question is more important than memorizing facts. Chris founded the Chicago Progressive Educator’s Forum to give teachers a place to connect and talk about education from a progressive perspective. Email Chris at

Spring 2020 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 13

Jo Jo the Puppet and Progressive Teaching — by Ann Douglas During my elementary school years, I think of my French teacher, Madame Greenwood. Madame Greenwood would enter the classroom several days a week pulling her red wagon. In it was an old paper mache and cloth puppet named Jo Jo. He did not appear in every lesson, but when he did, we were enchanted. We had fashion shows, set up cafes, rode tricycles in the hall to commemorate the Tour de France, and ate la pain au chocolat. Along the way, I learned a great deal of French and acquired a lovely French accent. I didn’t go on to become a French major, but I learned to love the language. I attended public schools and while there was a great deal of memorization and rote learning, teachers then were not teaching to a test. A sixth grade teacher in our school asked families to collect pop tops from cans. We scoured the neighborhood and brought in many encrusted with dirt. The host class counted them, hoping to reach a million. They didn’t make it, but it was fun and helped us to gain number sense. This was one of the first exercises in sustainability! I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I have taught now for 30 years, 25 of which have been in progressive schools. I became a progressive teacher quite by accident. When my son with Down Syndrome was born, we were directed to a small preschool that used a progressive curriculum, High Scope. I was a parent and a teacher at this dynamic school. What I learned from these gifted teachers was HOW to teach. Not what. Not when. We learned to follow the child’s lead, to honor their stage of development, and to provide opportunities for young children to explore, make plans and work together. I spent ten years teaching here before moving on to a progressive farm school, enrolling children from preschool to eighth grade. Here, I also learned from passionate teachers and came to value outdoor education. I am still thriving there, teaching first graders. Both of these schools embraced the arts. Through the arts children are able to create, problem solve and experiment. They learn to love the process of their learning. Mistakes are made. Children are learning partners with the teacher and reflect on their challenges and successes. They learn to support others in their learning, too. 14

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

Learning to be good citizens of the world and in our own little communities is crucial. Helping children to embrace conflicts and to solve them peacefully is a life-long lesson that pays dividends. These skills need to be taught. Appreciating the diversity of our communities also requires conversations. We are lost without the ability to connect. We do not know what jobs our children will acquire in the future; they are changing so rapidly! But, we do know that learning how to create, communicate and collaborate will be essential in any profession. Children should love school; it should be fun and welcoming and respectful of their needs as children and as learners. This is what we want for all children, including our own. Current brain studies have finally caught up with what progressive educators have known all along. Children learn best when they are engaged and interested and are a part of the learning process. My first graders do a farm life and garden unit each spring. Along with time spent feeding and learning about the animals in our barn and planting a garden, they chose topics to study. Some of the children wrote and performed Reader’s Theatre scripts, performed poetry and songs, made presentation boards, dioramas or mobiles. The teacher acted as a facilitator and provided necessary materials. The children worked hard and were successful in the end. The children taught each other. This experience was so much more than learning how a seed grows or what the life of a farmer is like. I went on to have Madame Greenwood as my French teacher in my early high school years. She was still giving us opportunities to explore and enjoy the language. I painted a mural on her classroom wall of all things French, and while doing so we had to speak French! (I did learn how to conjugate verbs.) I felt great joy in learning; this made all the difference. Not all of us can teach at a progressive school. But, we can try to know all of our students and respect their educational journey. We add those experiences that make learning fun and meaningful. Even if it means using a paper mache puppet like Jo Jo. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ann Douglas teaches first grade at a progressive farm school in Northern Virginia. She has been a teacher for 30 years, most of that time in progressive schools. She has led numerous workshops on different aspects of her progressive curriculum, including using a peace curriculum, how to do book writing in the classroom, making math more experiential, and how to implement a Loose Parts curriculum. Her students enjoy many art activities, including weaving and sewing, and spend time outside enjoying their 25-acre campus in Virginia and another 500-acre campus in West Virginia. Her email is

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THE SPEED OF A SLUG: An Illustration of Active Participation — by Frank J. Mosca, Ph.D. On a cool, clear November morning, I stepped onto the terrace at The School in Rose Valley to take up my post as morning greeter. There is no better way to start one’s day at school than to welcome children and parents as they arrive each morning. On this morning, several students of mixed ages were already present and I noticed that they were marveling at a slug leaving a trail of slime as it crossed the bricks. One student put his foot in the way and the others watched for several minutes as the slow moving creature took the long way around. “Does it run out of juice?” asked one student. “It sure is slow,” suggested another. “I hope it gets off the terrace before everyone else gets here,” a third child worried. “Maybe you can figure out just how fast it’s moving,” I ventured. That is all the prompting it took. Within seconds Kendall had broken a stick and laid it on the ground in front of the slug. He began counting. Then the others chimed in… thirty-seven, thirty-eight…It took the slug one hundred sixteen seconds to cover the length of the stick. “We’ve got it! One stick in one hundred sixteen seconds!” the students shouted. “That’s interesting, but maybe not a very useful unit of measure.” I stated, “Sticks come in lots of different sizes.” A frantic search for a ruler ensued. “Five inches! The stick is 5 inches long.” Kendall confirmed, holding the stick against the recently acquired ruler. “So, 5 inches in 116 seconds.” “116 seconds is almost 2 minutes,” Julie shouted, “can we round up?” “Ok, good…About 5 inches in 2 minutes…how far in one minute?” I asked. “That’s two and a half inches in one minute.” Someone replied. As another school bus rolled up and, as the children dispersed, I wondered out loud, “How far would that slug go in an hour?” I found this seemingly simple experience to be magical. Just the fact that we have no problem with kids on their bellies, outside, before school, observing slugs might be impressive, but, as an educator, the way the energy in the multi-aged group grew was thrilling. As I arrived the next morning, Julie, a third grader, declared that she and her dad figured out that the slug moved twelve and a half feet in an hour. As I passed the kids, on my way to my office, I asked Kendall if he had figured out how many miles per hour the slug was moving. “No” he replied, but following me into the office asked, “got a pencil?”


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

This is what progressive education allows! Students of differing ages and grade levels huddled together and focused on something mutually engaging. Adults being OK with students on their bellies, on a November morning, watching a slug traverse a brick terrace, and having the time and space to tap into intrinsic interest, solving real problems. Allowing children to use the tools they see fit, and encouraging the solution of those problems with minimal adult intrusion. These organic experiences, of course, do not a replace excellent classroom instruction where our students develop an understanding of the specific skills and knowledge they need, but it exemplifies a freedom to have real experiences upon which to build real understanding. The classroom teachers who work with Kendall, Julie, and the other students can use this experience to enhance problem solving and conceptual understanding when the explicit school curriculum is in use. I was reveling in the fact that I had the opportunity to leave my academic position as a university professor who prepared teachers, to work with the staff, students, and families of The School in Rose Valley for a year. My daughter attended the school. I had spent several years as a Trustee, and even supervised student teachers placed at the school. I had often spoken with my university students about progressive education, explaining the underlying values of community, discovery, experience, creativity, questioning, and collaboration. They listened and agreed that teaching and learning that way sounded very good, but given that most of their pre-service placements were in urban public or parochial schools, they certainly didn’t experience progressive education in practice, and didn’t really see how it could be included. Thanks to Kendall, we now know that our slug was traveling .002 MPH…interesting, but not a critical, or perhaps even practical, piece of knowledge. We all know slugs are really, really slow, and, for most, that is good enough. More importantly, children had the freedom to be captivated and fascinated by a slug, which provided a launching point for their observations, questions, posed problems, and solutions. As we know, intrinsic interest opens the door to significant learning. I have since returned to the university classroom. I share these examples and experiences beyond those who already embrace progressive educational practices, and find ways to infuse progressive practices into my university teaching. I also attempt to show my pre-service, and in-service teachers that the lessons of progressive classrooms can be applied to other settings. I would ask you to do the same, where you can. I think you will agree that we still need to demystify what we do as progressive educators. It is important to share our understandings about how to excite and engage learners beyond those who already embrace progressive practices, so that there will be opportunities for more students to experience learning that is driven by intrinsic interest and active engagement. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Frank J. Mosca, Ph.D. is an associate professor of education at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. He has a long-standing relationship with The School in Rose Valley (SRV), including being the parent of an alumna, service on the board of trustees, and interim head of school during the 2014-2015 school year. In addition to the preparation of new teachers, his current interests center on the founding of SRV and the early history of progressive education. He can be contacted at Rod Stanton is the current head of the school. For more information visit:

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Tools Humans Wield — by Becky Bob-Waksberg Five years ago, the students in my sixth grade math class were placed with me because they struggled. I described my students as ‘reluctant mathematicians’ because I knew they were capable of thinking mathematically, but when they saw a new challenging problem many of them reacted by staring blankly, putting their heads down, or even saying, “nope.” During a unit on rates and percents, I saw them work hard and build up their fluency with processes, but as usual when it came time to correct their tests, I was disappointed. They had some skills for how to find percents, but when asked to apply it to a fake ‘real-life’ situation about basketball players, they froze up. Over and over throughout the year, they told me they could not figure out how to apply their skills in word problems or situations. In the meantime, Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted, and I cried. I thought about one of my students, Brandon, who had written a poem identifying with Mike Brown. My social studies teacher friends were posting on Facebook about the ways they planned to talk about it with their students the next day, and in that moment I couldn’t remember why I had decided to teach math. How could I just close my classroom door and talk about fractions? The next morning, I put some fractions up on the board for students to write about for their warm-up: 67





100 519 53 After giving them a few minutes to compare the fractions as ‘naked numbers,’ I added in the context of what the fractions represented out of their total groups in Ferguson: black people living there, arrests of black people, and the number of black cops. The students talked about what they noticed and I gave them the term ‘disproportionate,’ then we moved on to the more official plan of the day. As she was packing up for her next class Aisha asked me, “Why aren’t we talking about this more in social studies?” I asked myself, why aren’t we talking about this more in mathematics? A few years later, I went to a math conference session I expected to love. The presenter shared that math is a great tool for understanding the world (at this point, I was listening excitedly) because, unlike the social sciences, it is completely unbiased and objective. This was when I started questioning my decision to be in the room. He then shared an example for us to analyze, the issue of excessive force by police. “Is this really a widespread problem?” he asked us. “Before we look at the numbers, what is your instinct?” An older white man in the front row said, “Well, I’ve never been mistreated by the police so I’d say, probably not.” 18

PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

(Reader, this is the point when I involuntarily exclaimed “You’ve got to be kidding me” under my breath, to the surprise of the person sitting next to me. In retrospect, I wish I had said it louder.) For the entire rest of the session, race was not named once. Not once! In a session on police violence! With Brandon and Aisha’s class, we focused in on Oakland, where we live. I gave them the latest Census numbers of who lives in Oakland broken down by race, and the police department’s report of how many people of each race they stopped in the past year. We talked about some of the limits and fuzziness that come with categorizing people with social constructs. As soon as I passed out the tables of numbers we would be working with, Brandon said “Whoa.” Brandon knew how to complete calculations, but he often struggled with noticing or understanding what numbers meant in context. He didn’t usually volunteer to share his thinking, and had reacted out loud without meaning to. With encouragement, he explained the number he had noticed right away. “The number of African Americans that got stopped by police,” he said. “It’s just so much higher than all the others.” The kids went to work on connecting the numbers to find and compare rates and percents. They found that Black people were about four times more likely than White people to be stopped by police in Oakland. The word “disproportionate” came back into the conversation. When they looked at the reasons for the stops, they also found that Black people were more likely than people of other races to be stopped for probable cause or reasonable suspicion rather than a concrete traffic violation. We talked about the difference between what we knew from the data and what we each might infer from the data, and what we could imagine other people might infer. Students wrote down new questions all of this mathematical analysis made them wonder about. All of them worked out rates and percents to think about a situation. Some of them used those rates and percents to create protest signs. In the conference session we used math to examine the question, “Is excessive force by police really a problem?” Here were some questions we did not examine: Do these numbers change if we disaggregate by race? Do we agree with how police departments define what is excessive? What are the explicit and implicit goals of police chiefs? Do we agree that those goals are legitimate? How might studying this topic land differently for students whose families or friends or selves have been victims of police violence? How do we define what counts as a problem? Each of these questions might have changed how we wielded the mathematics and the conclusions we drew. Math is an incredible tool for understanding and analyzing the world. It is of course completely subjective and biased by how humans choose to use it, just like every other tool humans create and apply. If we want to attend to precision, we have got to acknowledge the lenses and assumptions that guide the questions we ask and the answers we find. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Becky Bob-Waksberg teaches 6th grade math and science at Park Day School in Oakland, CA. She facilitates professional development for math teachers through Park City Math Institute and presents at educator conferences on topics such as mathematical freedom and teachers reckoning with harms we’ve caused in the classroom. Becky is on the board of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and supports the vision of justice reinvestment. She enjoys singing in harmony, drawing weird monsters, getting into intense conversations, and eating bagels.

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NIPEN 7.0 — by Theresa Collins Christa McAuliffe School (Saratoga, California) provided a green and generous space for the 7th cohort of the National Institute of PEN. Principal Rick Yee (NIPEN 5.0) and the amazing McAuliffe faculty, student and parent community opened their doors, courtyards, labyrinths, gardens and classrooms to our group for three days of looking, listening, and learning about progressive education at this public K-8 school in Silicon Valley. We are looking forward to gathering once more -- post quarantine -- at Francis W. Parker this fall.

NIPEN 7.0 COHORT MEMBERS AND SCHOOLS Catherine Cook School Allison Towsley Heather Vardis Jessica Majors Wintermantle Lisa Zimmer

Friends Community School Gerry Stewart

Francis W. Parker School Anne Blasko Elizabeth Joebgen Kay Silva

Billings Middle School Jessie Adkins

Presidio Knolls School Courtney Rasmussen Ellie Lyu

Christa McAuliffe School Jeff Mitbo Sue Hedgecock

Foothills School Melody Dykstra

Little Red Schoolhouse/ Elisabeth Irwin High School Stacy DIllon Kelly O’Shea Wickliffe Progressive Program Ted Hamilton Lydia Shivers

Ogden International School Sara Ivory

The NIPEN 7.0 Cohort, gathered in the beautiful courtyard at Christa McAuliffe School.


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

NIPEN essential supplies, sitting in a sunny spot

NIPEN Co- Directors Sven Carlsson & Theresa Collins await the arrival of cohort 7.0

A conflict resolution labyrinth in a courtyard

Principal Rick Yee welcomes the cohort

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#PENgagement 2020 “Progressive Education supports students as learners and citizens, and promotes diversity, equity, and justice in our schools and society.” Colleagues, we know that even at a distance, you are continuing to do amazing work in this unbelievable moment of our lives. Few of us could have predicted the state of the world we are living in as spring moves across the country and the world. Many, if not most of us, are now facing an end of the school year without the familiar celebrations of and reflections on a year gone well; yet, because we are educators and progressive educators at that, all of us are doing the best we can to support our students. In spite of the sadness and uncertainty, we hope that you are finding moments of joy and connection with your students, and maybe even discovering new ways to do progressive education. We’re thinking about you, feeling grateful for this network and hoping you are healthy. Stay well; thank you for staying connected to PEN! On behalf of the PEN Board of Directors, Theresa Squires Collins


PEN The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Spring 2020

SUPPORT PEN: These are unprecedented times, and our work at PEN continues. We would love your support at any level, which means giving financially, connecting with us online through our social networks, purchasing a little PEN swag (new products for summer!) and sharing this journal with your friends and colleagues. Amplifying the work, especially now, is powerful and important. Thank you!

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 Spring & Summer Swag! Support PEN *and* show everyone what a progressive educator looks like this summer with swag featuring our colorful logo! All purchases go toward the Fund for Access, helping more educators attend our National Conference and NIPEN. Visit and purchase one or two or five!

Thank You!

Spring 2020 The Journal of the Progressive Education Network PEN 23

How are you continuing to live the PEN Principles while teaching remotely?

SUBMISSIONS FOR FUTURE ISSUES OF PEN: The Journal of the Progressive Education Network Given the abruptly altered educational landscape we all now teach in, we would love for you to share you best ideas and experiences on how you are navigating this world of distance learning. In particular, we would like you to share with us how you are living ANY of the PEN Principles (listed on page 2 of this issue) while teaching remotely. Please submit your ideas with the subject “PROGRESSIVE DISTANCE LEARNING” and cite the specific PEN Principle you are demonstrating.In addition, we invite you to submit to any of our regular series of features listed below: “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 MONDAY, JUNE 15, 2020. 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 Spring 2020

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