It was no surprise to my family and friends when I became a teacher. They knew that I always loved school. Looking back on my education, I realize how lucky I was to attend a Montessori kindergarten; an elementary school where I had regular classes in visual art, music, dance, and drama; an innovative middle school without traditional grading and where we called our teachers by their first names; and an International Baccalaureate high school with inspired and inspiring teachers who prepared me for the challenges of college.
Now that I am a parent, it breaks my heart when I hear my own children talk about not enjoying school, and I know they are not alone. Too many children are being let down by our educational system. Not every student is going to have the opportunities I had, but with new technologies fundamentally changing the way we interact with one another, we are at a point where we have the chance to completely reimagine our schools. I want to be a part of this movement, and I believe that design thinking and other educational approaches hold great promise for better engaging our students in their education.
With this as my personal mission, the question I needed to answer is whether to attempt to effect change from inside or outside the system. While I will continue to work from the inside whenever I can, the focus of my doctoral research and my work with the Ensō Education Institute will be initiating change at the classroom level. To this end, I want to help build a network of teachers, administrators, students, and parents around the world who see the benefit of using design thinking, project-based learning, and other deeper learning methodologies to address real-world scenarios. The Ensō Education Institute has emerged as the beginning of this network.
To paraphrase Buckminster Fuller, how can we make the world work for 100% of the planet, through spontaneous collaboration, without disadvantaging any groups or individuals, or compromising the environment, in the shortest time possible.
His controversial conclusion was that it is more effective to change the environment in which a person grows up than to try to change the behavior of the individual.
Much of the inspiration for the Ensō Education Institute comes from Buckminster Fuller and his concept of each of us having the power of a “trimtab.”
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