A Note From Noah

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Peer Learning Cycle (PLC) evening, February 13th, 6-7pm.

Please RSVP here so we can plan accordingly.

I wrote about some elements of our PLC recently, exploring the intersection between pedagogy and democracy, through the lens of the “Activist New York” exhibit now at MCNY. I’ve also shared, in an earlier Note, the central question guiding our teachers’ PLC work this year: “We value democracy in our communities. How do classroom investigations empower children to become democratic citizens?”

What really excites me about our PLC is that it situates teachers as developers of ideas, beyond the traditional role of “teaching”. Many of our ideals around this are inspired by the notion that a school can be a “center of inquiry”. In this model, outlined by Robert Schaefer, schools should be organized so that the teaching staff is “characterized by a pervasive search for meaning” and “new knowledge.” To achieve that, our PLC can be recognized as “the deliberate creation of new intellectual outlets for teachers” in which teachers can connect their in-class experiences, their relationships with children, with their own intellectual curiosity and begin to develop novel approaches to bring back into their classrooms. In short, the PLC model allows for us to “investigate matters not yet understood.”

At our monthly Coffee Chat this morning, we dove into a discussion about the tension between our parent-desire to retain authority over our children and also, concurrently, encourage them to develop the strength and tools necessary to self-advocate and advocate for others (ie, to resist adult authority). We explored the opposing forces of control and resistance, of authority and dissent. We discussed how children’s resistance manifests vastly differently based on context and relationship – home vs. school, grandparents vs. parents, peers vs. siblings, etc. We also touched on how the power and authority of a parent is often couched in protective love as well as the understanding that children benefit from the stability provided by rules and structure.

I would love for you to join us in expanding – and critiquing – this conversation on February 13th. The evening is designed as a conversation and explicitly not a “presentation” – we do not have any answers, only questions and curiosities. The teachers will be sharing with you what their conversation on this topic has looked like so far this year, and will then be asking for your participation in that conversation.

We are hoping to chart new territory and need your involvement! As Schaefer concludes, “How can children fully know the dynamism of learning if the adults around them stand still?”

Shabbat shalom,