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.
If you love the stars and history, what a sweet little treasure you will find in The Star Tales of Mother Goose. This is a fun read, full of beautiful, playful illustrations and the beloved mother goose rhymes for the little ones. For adults, it is informative and engaging and re-ignites our childhood wonder of the stars. Stewart-Adams explains the history and meaning of each Mother Goose Rhyme for adults and brings it alive with stories.
For example, in the well known rhyme Humpty Dumpty, she explains how the king’s horses and king’s men are the four constellations of the four seasons and that Humpty Dumpty himself is the SUN! Summer solstice is the wall, “the moment when the sun stands still, highest above the celestial equator.” Then the sun falls back down again and Bootes, Hercules, and Perseus are the KIng’s men and Pegasus and Equeleus are the horses. In like fashion, she explains ten different rhymes and their starlore meanings.
She also guides the inexperienced in locating these stars with easy descriptions of how to find them and their constellations without any technical terms. Wonderful for parents and children to watch the night sky together with and dream or just for the young at heart. I highly recommend this book for parents of young ones or to give as a gift.
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.
While I respect brain research and acknowledge its immense value, teachers need to apply what we already know.
A human being is more than just a brain.
Humans develop in multiple ways: emotionally, physically, spiritually, cognitively, and artistically. Students are more than their test scores. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and mental health, which includes emotional + physical health, cannot be ignored.
We deserve to develop all sides of ourselves and teachers really help their students when they deliver instruction in a variety of ways, not just one single mode.
Then there is the reality of 2020.
K-12 teachers are entering the virtual teaching sphere en masse. In just a few more weeks this gets real. Young children will be learning solely through a glowing screen when the new school year begins.
How well can we teach through multiple intelligences using a virtual platform?
From an Edutopia article on Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence:
Practices Supported by Research
Having an understanding of different teaching approaches from which we all can learn, as well as a toolbox with a variety of ways to present content to students, is valuable for increasing the accessibility of learning experiences for all students. To develop this toolbox, it is especially important to gather ongoing information about student strengths and challenges as well as their developing interests and activities they dislike. Providing different contexts for students and engaging a variety of their senses — for example, learning about fractions through musical notes, flower petals, and poetic meter — is supported by research. Specifically:
Providing students with multiple ways to access content improves learning (Hattie, 2011).
Providing students with multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills increases engagement and learning, and provides teachers with more accurate understanding of students’ knowledge and skills (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
Instruction should be informed as much as possible by detailed knowledge about students’ specific strengths, needs, and areas for growth (Tomlinson, 2014).
As our insatiable curiosity about the learning process persists and studies continue to evolve, scientific research may emerge that further elaborates on multiple intelligences, learning styles, or perhaps another theory. To learn more about the scientific research on student learning, visit our Brain-Based Learning topic page.
In how many ways can we present our lesson material that touch on multiple intelligences while coming through a screen to first graders? How will I make the material come alive for a six to seven year old? How will I build the human relationships with my very young students in the virtual?
These are questions I am faced with as a first grade online teacher. Perhaps for a high school or college professor, it looks somewhat different. But as a teacher of primary grades, I have deep concerns about the long-term impacts of what is unfolding as we shift away from live teachers sharing stories orally and through books to Youtube videos streaming into students’ homes.
More than ever, we need ways to protect the youngest students from too much screen time and connect with them on a real, emotional, human level. Last night I watched the video of a grieving father explain how his 12 year-old son committed suicide two days before when he broke his computer monitor for a second time. I can’t help but feel we are sacrificing the lambs without knowing the potential consequences.
In 2050 this generation of first grade students will be hitting their prime working years. They might be the first generation of children who will have learned how to read and write on a computer, with many hours less of touching a real pencil to paper or holding real books in their hands from the school library.
I want to explain that I am no luddite. As a ten year old girl, I loved computers. Later, as a first year teacher in the 1990’s I sponsored an “Internet Club” for my 6th graders and I was among the first in my district to publish a teacher webpage on the internet. At the time my principal could not correctly pronounce the word, “internet.” I have a keen interest in the potential of technology in education.
I want to see a healthy use of computers that respects the needs of human development of young children. I just honestly think we as a society do not yet know what “healthy computer use” looks like for young people as evidenced by the expectations of the general public and decision-makers and devastating impacts like that of the father who lost his son to suicide.
The forced virtual schooling that is upon us may not be something we have control over and I am all in favor of focusing on the things we DO have control over. Forced online schooling happened too quickly to manage well in the middle of a health crisis this spring. What will be different this fall about forced virtual schooling now that the new school year is here?
What teachers do have control over is how we teach and how we build relationships with students and parents. We can also advocate for our students’ needs when situations call for it. I for one, will be trying as many innovative ways as I can to connect on a personal, human level, and to look for ways as many ways as possible to make my lessons physically active, imaginative, and multi-sensory for my students. At the same time that we are forced to embrace online teaching, we need to embrace what makes us human. I will continue to reach for any reasonable tools that I find to connect with my students and I will share what I find with others in the field. It’s back to school season, 2020-style.