Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Stuart Foundation,
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
It is comforting in times of uncertainty to look to history for guidance and clarity. Thomas Jefferson said people should fully participate in society and not just politics or government. Powerful words if we believe that public education is the cornerstone of our democratic society and a critical system to prepare our young people to be full contributors.
How many more articles like this one mentioned in my latest blog, do we need to read about the lack of joy of learning that exists in so many of our public schools? I believe, we must be intentional if we really want to transform the way our young people learn.
Creating such intention requires us to think differently about our challenges. It’s about changing mindsets, bringing empathy, not judging, and creating different experiences and stories. Engaging young people is a great way to highlight their voice and get them involved in finding solutions. Our young people want their voices heard and we should accelerate including them.
We have many reasons to be hopeful. Some schools and school districts are prioritizing relationships. Moreover, emerging brain science shows that emotions are necessary for cognitive learning. Learning happens when young people are excited, motivated, and engaged.
To be this intentional, three key actions are necessary. First, continue to emphasize relationships amongst students, educators, families and parents, and community. Second, spark positive emotion and build trusting connections with our young people to accelerate learning. Third, provide our educators with the appropriate knowledge, skills and tools they need to engage, support, and enable our kids to learn and experience success.
The Stuart Foundation is already supporting such intention. Through the work of our partners, valuable contributions are being made in these three areas. And we must remind ourselves that success takes time. The work is hard. Our partners need our support both working and learning together, pushing and questioning each other, and sometimes failing together. This is where the growth and commitment to continuous improvement takes place. Examples of our partners’ work in these critical areas include:
The Los Angeles Education Partnership with teacher-led designed schools that structure supports around lifting up student voice and building relationships between students, teachers, parents and families.
In closing, I want to again emphasize the importance of honoring and supporting our young people in their education and life journey. Our children need us to believe in them, push them, and tell them that they matter.
As we enter the season of renewal, we have the opportunity to look back. Can we remember what our children were like when they were first born? When they learned to take their first steps? Can we remember the promise and hope we had for them? Looking back helps us project forward. What does our future need to look like for the light in our children to be the brightest? We should follow Einstein’s advice to think differently and engage our youth to help us do so.