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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 11.20.21

I got out to two school visits this week – The San Diego Met and Met Sacramento. The San Diego Met visit was with the dynamic Ashé Leaders Fellowship and the Sacramento visit was with Pam and Bryan. In both cases it was apparent how good students felt about being back to school where they could connect with their advisors and friends as well as go out on their LTI’s. The broad range of student interests made it quite clear to everyone that every student was driving their learning and that we were with them on their journey. You can’t have pre-selected pathways that schools provide to students this kind of engagement. The fit has to be from the student with the school fitting the student and NOT just the student fitting the school.

On Thursday night after an exhilarating week, everyone from Ashé Leaders Fellowship came over to our house where we had great food, great entertainment and great mingling. In keeping with the spirit of Ashé’s work that focuses on cultural identity of community, Karla had a troupe of young dancers (ages 12-16) perform for us in our backyard. Here’s a photo. They were phenomenal.

Speaking of photos, I asked Isary if she could create a “family photo folder” for the Wednesday Group. The purpose is to share experiences without text to keep everyone updated on where we are and what’s happening. This is like a visual TGIF.

If it works out well, we can move to all of BPL.


“We had nothing but time.” Darlene and Misha

Last week, Darlene and I were out with our friend Misha. She is a retired physician from San Francisco. In the 80’s, Misha was on the frontlines of the AIDs epidemic and in her teens she lived through the Prague Spring in 1968. Part of the conversation was about what it was like coming from countries where you could feel the recent influence of colonial rule creating high unemployment and with it no money. As they spoke this phrase came up: “We had nothing but time.” It struck me because for the most part, time is the thing most people nowadays feel they have so little of and so little control of. What did they do when they had “Nothing but time?”

Over the last month, we at BPL spent a good amount of time thinking about our time and how to manage it. Time is one of those topics that is really way “Bigger Than We Think.” For that reason, I just finished the book, About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks. The concluding remarks go like this: Clocks are tools at our disposal. if other people are using them to control our lives, we can use them ourselves too, to good effect. And it is about time that we did, because, otherwise, our time might run out.” Avanti!

“And I didn’t come at it from thinking about virtual reality before trying it. I tried it before thinking about it. And for me, it just was plainly obvious that what virtual reality was good for was noticing how magical conventional reality is.”

This statement comes from an interview with Jaron Lanier one of the creators of virtual reality. I’ve been following Lanier for decades. His notions about the potential of virtual reality and how companies should be paying us for our data instead of getting it for free make you think about how different things should be. Like us, Lanier understands the power of experiencing something and then thinking about it, not the other way around. The latter is what schools champion i.e. Know and be able to do instead of also, Do and be able to know. This is no small distinction.

Here’s some of our Fannie Lou students with Congressman Ritchie Torres and Senator Charles Schumer talkin’ housing and highways.


In his column, If You Have Something to Say, Say It! John McWhorter, pretty much to a tee, describes how we work with our students on oral presentations at Exhibitions. McWhorter loves to write but he also understands that how oral presentations, not text-based speeches that are not written down word for word have such a strong connection to the audience in ways that written language, prepared speeches or tightly contrived short orations i.e. Ted Talks cannot. When I looked into his background, I found that he went to Simon’s Rock, a school that aligns in many ways with BPL. Once again, as in the case of Linear, notions come from experiences.

Next week, I’m continuing my meetings with Joe Youcha and John Dillow on new forms and new ways credentials and certifications coming from industry to be delivered to youth below 18. Be well!


Elliot Washor

Co-Founder of Big Picture Learning

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