I love Fridays here at Antioch when classes are in session. It’s not just the obvious TGIF thing, either. Friday means Integrated Learning students in the building. Now, I may be biased (being as how I’m an educator myself), but I think Fridays are the Best Days we have here at ANE. (Again, I’m fully aware of the depth of my bias.) Want to know why? Here’s a quick list:
There are students racing electric cars down the hall past my office. These students are in David Sobel’s science education course and, while I have no idea exactly what they’re doing- I know they’re doing it with a great deal of enthusiasm. And I know they’re using wires and batteries of some sort. And I’m pretty sure that their students will love this lesson as much as they do.
We are not afraid of Change.
In Pro-Sem today, students will have a chance to impact education policy during the Obama/Biden administration as part of the Dear President Elect campaign being conducted by the Coalition of Essential Schools. Now, besides the fact that that’s just nifty as all heck, it also speaks to the way that we view our pre-service students as professionals with points of view that matter and should be included in the larger debate. We don’t believe that you have to stay quiet for 5 years until you earn tenure and that only then are you allowed to have a voice, though that’s another post for another day. It also speaks to the amazing way that our faculty connect to one another. See, I’m the direct link between CES and ANE, but I’m not a faculty member in this program. In fact, my faculty responsibilities are pretty limited in that I only teach a couple of courses each year. I’m lucky enough to spend my days working out “there,” in the field, with schools and teachers who are in the middle of the fray day in and day out. That could mean (and does mean, at many other institutions) that my colleagues in the department could view me and my work as outside the realm of their work. Instead, Jane (who doesn’t even have a Pro-Sem) and Judy and Peter and Ron were excited about the initiative, took the paperwork out of my hands happily, and promised to return letters later today. They look to me as one of many links to the best work happening in the field, part of symbiotic relationship that exists here.
Well, Mr. Freire- may I call you Paulo?
Later today, a group of students (some of whom are still merrily learning about physics in the hall) will take on the role of philosophers during a lovely Café held in their philosophy course. I know this because their instructor is my office mate and she’s been frantically arranging flowers, scones, tablecloths and tea all morning. By going above and beyond, by paying attention to the details of the educational experience, teachers like Susan create a meaningful community in which learning is not only fun and powerful and rigorous, but also joyful and worthy of celebration.
Can I frame your Out to Lunch?
Speaking of beauty, the final reason (for now) that I love Fridays at ANE- why I love every day at ANE- has to do with the aesthetic of the place. Now, I could be talking about the ethos, the way of being that we share and that would certainly be true. I’m not though. I’m talking about the lovely way in which we do things here. When people leave notes or make announcements, they do it on scraps of watercolor art. Not many places have lovely “Leave Papers Here” notices, but we do.
So enough gushing. Time to get back to work. That’s the other thing I love- the work we do. That’s another gift I’m lucky to receive every single day.
Laura Thomas, Director Antioch Center for School Renewal