Several years ago I subscribed to a newsletter put out by Education Re-Imagined, a non-profit organization that connects people and programs that work on the frontiers of educational innovation. It was through reading one of their recent newsletter issues I learned of this book, Thrive. Its co-authors are Valerie Hannon and Amelia Peterson.
Hannon is co-founder of the Innovation Unit of Global Leader Partnership and Peterson, has a PhD in Education from Harvard University.
Thrive gives a research-based overview of existing evidence and case studies of innovative school programs world-wide with a framework of suggestions to realign educational goals towards creating conditions that promote “thriving.” First, the authors set about defining what they mean by “thriving.” They give four levels of thriving:
A. Global B. Societal C. Interpersonal D. Intrapersonal
Then they identify four key questions:
1. How can all learners best prepare for economies with technology-driven opportunities and development? 2. What tasks can humans perform better than machines and conversely, what tasks can machines perform better than humans? 3. What knowledge and skills do humans need to shape and direct computing power? 4. How can people best be prepared to learn and relearn skills to do human work, rather than be second class robots?
There is a central theme throughout the book of generating a more sustainable relationship with the Earth and its resources in the future. The authors identify both economic globalization and migration as key issues effecting the future.
They prioritize a different relationship between humans and our environment as a key desired outcome. The authors make the claim that education’s purpose is not to merely position kids for wealth acquisition in the job marketplace.
Hannon provides ample school examples already creating conditions for thriving with descriptions of their programs. She discusses an Ecosystems Approach that addresses:
A. Equipping learners for a disrupted jobs/work landscape (published post-Covid) B. Educating for building respectful relationships in diverse, technologized societies C. Creating local sustainability endeavors that address problems in local communities D. Providing real-life application of knowledge, addressing “learner agency”
I liked hearing about how innovative schools in others locations are already adressing and accomplishing these tasks. I would have liked to have seen more data about learner outcomes attached to this overview of innovation. More could be done to follow up on these outcomes. How well did students of these types of programs do on measured learning standards, and perhaps for the more established programs, how did the graduates measure in terms of life happiness, mental health, employability, and the broader goals of interpersonal and intrapersonal thriving as they became adults? Where results were available, it would have been nice to hear more of it although the lack of data is not the necessarily the fault of the author.
The book does accomplish the goal of helping the audience become aware of what is currently being done in schools across a broad range of issues to address global problems we face. Teachers interested in innovation and change will be interested in this book.
The birth chart of the school year could be said to be the first day of school, so here I have taken the start date for the first day of school for my locality as August 17, 2021 at 8:00am, Tomball, Texas CDT.
Quick Summary: A positive year for communicating, thinking and learning with a theme of conserving or storing resources for the future and keeping one’s true identity and values foremost in one’s mind as one plans for the future. (See Interpretation Below)
Highlights of this Chart
Mercury is the ruler of the chart
Mercury and Mars conjunct Virgo on the ASC
Sun, Mercury, Venus and Saturn all in Rulership – a bit of a conference
Trines with the Nodes to Venus and Saturn
Moon & Mars in Accidental Dignity
Venus in Libra in the First House, but First House ruled by Mercury
Uranus Rx – Aug. 20 Mercury Rx Sept 27-Oct. 18 Mars in Scorpio on Halloween Pluto direct – Oct. 6 Saturn direct – Oct. 11 Mercury direct and Jupiter direct -Oct. 18 Eclipses – Nov 8, Nov. 19, Total Solar Dec. 4 Mercury Rx – Jan. 14-Feb.4 Venus Rx Dec. 19-Jan. 29 Jupiter in Pisces – Dec. 30 Uranus direct – Jan. 18, 2022 Chinese New Year – Feb. 1, 2022 – Begins Year of the Tiger Pluto Rx – Apr. 29, 2022 Partial Solar Eclipse – Apr. 30, 2022 Mercury Rx May 10-June 3, 2022 Total Solar Eclipse – May 16, 2022 Summer Solstice – June 21, 2022
Interpreting the Symbolism
The 2021-22 school year has a positive outlook. With many planets in air signs, it will be a productive year for learning, thinking, and communicating, which brings some hope for integrating all of that was learned by teachers and all that was not learned by students in schools since the pandemic.
Mercury is the ruler of the chart at 10 Virgo, the symbol for which is a child molded in their parents’ aspirations. There may be pressure to live up to others’ expectations, and a need to go after what you want instead. With Mars conjunct we are given the “oomph” or grit to assert. But, if we cannot accept our true identity, we may be in trouble as our true identity is exposed. We are no longer able to hide or pretend because Mars at 11 Virgo’s symbol is a bride with her veil being snatched away.
Here we can imagine the image of the Norse God Thor, acting the part of Freya with a veil in order to trick his enemies.
If you are the bride, accept the new realities and commit without pretense. If you are the one doing the snatching away of the veil, there may be feelings of violation or a rude awakening to the reality but we need to accept the situation.
This school year may bring a theme of evaluating the changes that took place during pandemic and taking the best of the past going forward. Venus is at 1 Libra, Lynda Hill describes the Sabian Symbol this degree:
“This wonderful Symbol shows a time of new beginnings with an implementation of a brand new order. Often, this shows people being interested in attaining spiritual transformation and attainment. As you change and grow there’s a need to respect the value of what is waning, and to take the best qualities from the past with you into your future. This often shows being within reach of your ultimate potential. Some aspects of society are left behind for a higher, more evolved state. ” – from SabianSymbols.Com
Loose ends from previous experiments need to be tied up, and so it will be a year of trials, creativity, and problem solving. This requires good communication and a back and forth flow of test and revise, and test again until the fine tuning of right solutions emerge. The ASC of this chart is 8 Virgo, an expressionist painter making futuristic drawings.
So with Venus at 1 Libra and taking the best of the past and bringing it forwards into a new order, we can be creative and visionary in drawing up future plans, but we have the danger of being too idealistic as well. We may be living in the mind too much or overemphasizing the future without considering reality of the present. Venus at Libra 1 suggests new beginnings and bringing forward collective wisdom in service to the future.
Two trines exist between two planets in rulership to the north node, Venus in Libra, the MC/Nodes in Gemini, and Saturn in Aquarius. This could bring a creative synergy of ideals and values that align with true purpose.
The Lunar Node is on the midheaven of this chart at 7 Gemini. This is the Sabian Symbol for aroused strikers surround a factory. Social tensions have been high for quite some time, and that is not likely to abate. We still have Uranus in Taurus which might suggest revolution (Uranus) in the realm of physical resources (Taurus). Mercury and Venus near the horizon of this chart suggest embracing one’s true identity. This is also inconjunct to Chiron, at the degree whose symbol is a bomb failing to explode.Note here, this need not be a literal bomb, but could rather a symbolic one and seems to suggest disasters averted rather than things exploding.
There is a back and forth between urgency and fanaticism on the one hand and the need for crowd control, and calm, stable leadership.
The Moon at 19 Sagittarius gives the Sabian symbol of in winter people cutting ice from a frozen pond for summer use. This brings to mind the image of planning ahead and conserving resources, which shows up in a few other symbols for this chart. Where can we be like wise Joseph as Pharoah in the Old Testament, storing grain for the drought?
Meanwhile Saturn at 9 Aquarius has the Sabian symbol for a person who had for a time become the embodiment of an ideal is made to realize they are not this ideal. This repeats the theme of embracing one’s true identity, just as the symbol of the veil being snatched away. Where can we recognize what is and what is not the ideal? How accurate are our assessments of these ideals? Judging things by the level of popular support does not always equate to what is truly ideal or what is best.
The Sun is at 24 Leo is opposing Jupiter in Aquarius. With the Sun in rulership here in the 12th house, we have an image of a large camel crossing a vast and forbidding desert. We may have to carry the load for a long distance for others. The warning here is to prepare for the journey, to collect reserves and resources, and avoid mirages. We may have to push ahead in difficult times, be self-sufficient, have mental stamina and exercise mental self-control on a journey through a desert. This also rings true for the Chinese Astrology for this year – the Metal Ox, next year we move into the Year of the Tiger. This axis shows the polarity of self (Leo) and the collective (Aquarius). There is also this idea of bringing something of value or great importance across an expanse of desert to someone in need of it, in other words, precious cargo that requires self-sacrifice.
The Sabian symbol for 27 Aquarius is a tree felled and sawed to ensure a supply of wood for the winter. It is interesting to have so many repeated symbols for conserving and storing resources for future use. Who is going to need the precious resources and how will we get it to them, who will make that journey or sacrifice to ensure it?
Chiron, Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all moving retrograde suggesting consolidation of ground previously covered in the social movements and collective of the day.
Venus is in rulership in Libra and her location in the Taurean house of resources seems positive. At the same time we have Pluto in Capricorn requiring transformation. How can we transform the idea of power based on material resources? Where are we merely creating more waste or peddling our knicknacks and where are we setting a standard for excellence in what we create that is in alignment with values for the future? Since Venus inches near to the second house it is suggesting that we are not quite there yet. Rather than focusing on our fears of what we don’t want, have we clearly defined what we value and what we do want? While our values may not all be the same, where can we find common ground and work together? Here we need a solid sense of identity before entering commitments. Chiron in Aries points us toward being examples of calm leadership. Sharing our values and ideals may be one of the most important creative acts of service we can render because to fail to bring these out, or to hide under the veil is to fail to participate. That is like putting your head in the sand, thereby ensuring common ground will never be found. A move forward begins with conversations that matter and self-assertion (Mars) and revealing our true nature. Having conversations about shared values and conserving physical resources will be relevant this year.
For more information on Sabian Symbols, please see Lynda Hill’s Sabian Symbols.
I ran across this article from Brainpickings about letters that Albert Einstein wrote to his own children. He writes to his 11 year old son,
“That is the way to learn the most…when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
-Einstein, in a letter to his son
I got to thinking about the kind of learning that Einstein describes – the sense of losing time because you are so present and engaged in something you are interested in. I love that Einstein also tells his son in the letter to play more piano and do carpentry, and that it is “even more important than school.” (YES!)
It made me wonder, what would Einstein think of the virtual learning we are planning for students to endure this year? How many students in school regularly experience that same sensation of total engagement, of losing time while engaged in learning? It may happen occasionally, but I doubt that most students miss normal school instruction.
How engaged will students be in online lessons this year? What would Einstein think of 6 and 7 year olds learning how to read, write, and count by way of screens? What would he think of high schoolers logging in for a minimum of 180 minutes everyday without face-to-face interaction with their peers? Extending virtual instruction for students indefinitely everywhere as a mainstay form of schooling will have long and short term consequences on individual and collective levels. There are so many issues to this, it can be difficult to grasp. But I hope I can stir a points here.
First, when we are totally engaged and losing track of time as Einstein described, this is about relevance, interest, self-motivation and choice. Schools typically provide very little choice in learning. Einstein knew, the best way to learn is not necessarily in school. Yet, we can learn some things in school, and we can also learn some things on computers. Technology has its place, but a screen does nothing to engage us with the same completeness that real-life tasks do. What if we embraced this challenge of school closure due to pandemic as an opportunity to learn through real tasks with verve and interest? Things like playing music and doing practical tasks like carpentry have a real place in daily life for healthy people with curious minds. Too much external, academic programming makes us lose touch with that sense of agency and autonomy to do purposeful activities with our hands.
Second, there is the idea that when schools are at their healthiest and best, they can provide a sense of community. When schools are at their worst they provide a sense of alienation, perpetuating societal indoctrination, propaganda, and racism. Sometimes schools can be very sick places.
Due to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis, we have already been away from our schools for more than six months. What have students missed the most? Friends and the social contact with their community? Playing at recess, or going to gym class, sports, or other activities? For older kids, being captain of the team their senior year? Graduations, proms and other major events? Students might also feel the loss of regularity and routine, the predictable structure that the school day provides. Maybe the children also miss the independence, the ability to leave their homes, taking a step into the broader community away from their family? Occasionally, students might miss being with an inspired teacher who can foster within a student a love for a subject, or the self-confidence to overcome obstacles. The loss of interpersonal opportunities like these can’t really be measured. There may be many other things I failed to list about what students missed, but I doubt high quality instruction would make the top of their list because most never get to experience it. I mean no disrespect to my teaching colleagues in this, but most instruction is not engaging. Also, some children might be relieved they are NOT in school, More students may be relieved to NOT have to worry they will be shot while eating their lunch in the cafeteria. The incidence of school shooting are down for the first time in a long while. Children today face extreme anxieties that adults today never had to worry about. Sometimes our schools are very dangerous places.
Why did humans develop schools? A school was meant to be a place where we provide a well-rounded offering of activities with the intent to enrich human experience, but that is definitely not always achieved. What opportunities, advantages and disadvantages does virtual learning offer us? How can we meet our needs for community? What good schools provide, virtual learning cannot easily provide the same way. On the flip side, perhaps the hidden opportunity of not being in a school building is that we have more time to heal from the ills of our own society. We have more time to reflect on what we want, and more time for the kind of learning Einstein talks about, if we are able to take advantage of it. We will need to control our time better, however, and not be mindlessly controlled by our screens. One need only recall the movie Wall-E to imagine how life in the future might be if we allow ourselves to be controlled by our screens and materialism.
We need to keep a distinction between “school” and “learning” and be more mindful of the potential negative effects of so much screen time on childhood. Learning does not necessarily take place in schools, though it can. Children are not widgets or robots. Requiring massive amounts of screen time as a vehicle for learning will have long term consequences which have yet to be fully understood, but there will be steep consequences on a societal level, as well as on mental and physical health levels. A bigger question might be, with the onset of Artificial Intelligence, at what point are we irreversibly putting computers above human beings as decision makers?
Some people are upset because they so desperately want kids back in a school building. What is that really about? Economics of childcare? Convenience for parents? Government control? The comfort of routine? FOMO?
It is not the building that makes learning happen. Learning can happen in a lot of ways. The school building is just a shared space for community. A community of people can be a sick community or it can be a vibrant community or something in between. It can be online community or in person community or something in between. We don’t have to be in a particular place to learn, but whether we are in a school building or on a screen, its of vital importance that we keep striving to make what happens in schools REAL, relevant, ACTIVE, ENGAGING and above all… HUMAN for students.
1.almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition:“the virtual absence of border controls”
1.the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught:“these children experienced difficulties in learning“synonymsstudy, studying, education, schooling, tuition, … more