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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 10.16.21

Whenever I talk story with Kapua about what Namahana is doing, it amazes me. It is like I’m thrown back in time where young children (kiki) are given real responsibilities attached to ‘measured’ risks and uncertainties that have real consequences. This week there was a discussion about Ho ike – student exhibitions or real-time demonstrations of learning. This is more closely translated in Hawaiian as how you show or express a deeper understanding. Also, we discussed, Alaki – student guides – how older students guide younger students and adults like me who know less. All of this is placed in the context of Aina-based education – land.


The climate change food calculator is both a fun and informative tool that lets you know the carbon footprint of each food you eat. This is done on the app by breaking down how much energy goes into producing what you eat. Danique, Marsha-Gail and I continue our meetings on the Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) Initiative/BPLiving 3-part webinar series. Making it real and actionable to all the parts of a community is one of the challenges.


Take Five – Time Out – Dave Brubeck Quartet Why is every course the same amount of time? Why do all diplomas and degrees no matter what the discipline takes the same amount of time? No matter where we go in schools or at work, time is being used to assess us. How do we break into the barriers of time? There’s the 10,000 Hour Rule for mastery but Mike Rose always pointed out:

“As mastery is foregrounded the clock recedes.” And, then despite all this talk about competency-based assessment, the almighty Carnegie Unit that measures a certain amount of content in a set time, graded on a bell curve or something similar is still in place. Why don’t we break free of these constraints that limit how we learn, what we learn, and when we learn? In 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quartet broke free of standard time with their album Time Out. This integrated quartet made the first jazz album that sold over 1 million copies and used non-standard times in most of the songs on the album. Take Five, the most popular song is a double entendre. Yes, it means take a 5-minute break but it also stands for changing the rhythm going to 5 beats per measure instead of 4/4 time. For me, this is about what we must do in education i.e. go to new forms and new measures. If we just change time that’s not the whole story. The big picture headline is together changing the rhythms. This changes the content and the time all at once. New forms and new measures are one of our biggest challenges in creating community and culture both in and outside of schools and within our own BPL community. The elegance of B-U is that there is no allotted time nor is there a specific content. Both are up to the Navigator.


This week one of last year’s HFFs, Maddie spent time talking with us about her new work. Maddie is both a representative for Harbor Freight Fellows and is amplifying that work in the B-Unbound Navigator Community. The lack of representation of women especially, women of color at sea and in the marine trades is shameful. Women seafarers represent only 2 percent of the !.2 million employed in this work. Getting more women to be seafarers is what Maddie is taking on with the collective support of other women in the marine trades. This is not just about a lack of knowledge that this work exists. It is about harassment and a culture that needs serious change. As our talks continued, it was very clear this is not going to be easy work nor is it something that will turn around fast. The good news is that the wheels are in motion and we are a part of the change. Lots of meetings to get B-U up and running. One was with Ivan Cestero, a friend of Javier’s who is part of a new college in Miami called MYX. It has lots of similarities to College Unbound so, I put Ivan in touch with Dennis. In our talk, I also told Ivan about B-U and he immediately saw opportunities for the college students using B-U both as Navigators to find Supportive Adults around their interests and as Supportive Adults working with other Navigators. This is the second time this has happened with a college hearing about B-U. Many times, I’ve written about how poorly colleges and universities do on connecting their students to real-world learning and to people in a student’s field of interest. This manifests in the low percentages of colleges that actually are part of the process of helping their students get work. This is yet another avenue for B-U. International Big Picture Learning Credentials (IBPLC)

At this year’s first BPL International meeting we had representation from Liberia, Kenya, Ireland, the UK, Barbados, Canada, and the US. From Barbados, Gaby gave a presentation to the group about the use of the IBPLC. Part of the presentation was a 5-minute video of Zad, a student at Beyond the Box School on his work as an entrepreneur and stock market investor with a heart and soul. Following the video, we had a discussion and it was obvious how well Gaby knew Zad and how important it is to know students in order to be able to assess their learning. Thanks to Sonn for putting it all together. It was great to see everyone and it was a really useful session. I’m attaching Zad’s video. On Monday, Carlos and I made a trip to Oakland for Dirk Tillotson’s Memorial Service. Dirk devoted his life to ending inequalities in the communities he lived and worked in. He was an amazing person who was all in on everything he did instill a sense of confidence in everyone around him that made them believers in themselves. When someone was down on themselves, it was Dirk who gave them their boost by saying, “YOU, YOU GOT THIS!” with the person knowing Dirk would be there with them on their journey. He was tragically taken from us on a home invasion but as so many testified, he lives on with us. Be well!

-------------- Elliot Washor Co-Founder of Big Picture Learning

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