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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 2.18.22

Dubbed the SoFL Avengers by CJax, our group had a great time being both serious and playful at the same time. Two years ago, about half of those assembled did the scouting for Big Bang 2020. Now we were joined by Anthonette and Taylor. It is almost two years to the day where we are now re-assembled in the same hotel – The Diplomat, relentless in our pursuits to make this a memorable Big Bang.

I don’t get much of a chance to work on my French but while scouting out Leaving to Learn opportunities, Anthonette, Taylor, and I went to Little Haiti and got a warm welcome from the people at the Little Haiti Community Center. Their indoor/outdoor marketplace is a perfect venue for our evening activities nestled in a vibrant community. What a great Leaving to Learn opportunity.

“Plus ca change, c’est plus la meme chose.” Twenty-seven years ago when we were meeting with a school district around the New Urban High Schools Initiative, one district administrator told us, “We can’t do that besides we’re already doing it.” That line was one that gives even a person like me, who talks in tongue twisters and redundancies reason to pause. Turns out, that the other day as Carlos and I were reviewing district work, sure enough, he mentioned that someone in the room uttered a phrase very close to this one. I guess the phrase caught on as a meme in certain circles. The good news is that the world works in mysterious ways and we are in many places where this phrase was uttered but being unrelentless, we supported people in these communities and turned it into “We can do that and we are now doing it.”


Content won’t make you content unless it gives your life meaning and purpose

“As a child, he wanted to be an astronomer, “but I realized you need to be very smart at maths and calculating orbits. I was like ‘I just like looking at stars ! ʼ” This is a story about Sean McLoughlin a.k.a. Jacksepticeye, a YouTube superstar. He’s an Irish kid who became a social media giant. As a teenager, he couldn’t really do anything well so he dropped out of school. Sean will fully admit, he gets by on his charm and wit but as he confesses “definitely not my intelligence.” I guess that’s based on how he was made to believe and the world at large defines intelligence. On social media people love him but something happened. He burned out when he became a caricature of himself rather than being himself. Sean stated, ‘At some point, I kind of became a caricature and it was me playing Jacksepticeye rather than just being myself. That’s where the burnout happens.” I’m a firm believer that literally or metaphorically burn-out occurs when you are doing things that are not who you are. One indicator of this when someone says: “That’s not me.” is a big deal to listen for or observe when anyone works WITH youth. The plus side is hearing someone say: “That’s me!” then, they are on their way, and with support from family, peers, adults, clubs, and schools can find meaning from doing what makes them, them. I had some great Zooms this week that started with Nate Adams from New Rochelle. Nate is head of the Boys and Girls Clubs in New Rochelle, Larchmont, and Mamaroneck. He also runs My Brother’s Keeper and is friends with Congressman Bowman. We are going to start B-U and BPLiving both in and outside of schools in these places. Another was with David Blustein who has worked with us on evaluating Leaving to Learn experiences. David is at Boston College and studies the psychology of work specifically, around the dignity and decency of work connected to meaning and interest. This is where the connections lie in our B-U framework. He’s also connecting us to psychometricians that he knows to support our IBPLC work. And, another was with Aaron Rasmussen and Brett Roer of Masterclass and Outlier. There were quite a few connections to follow-up with re: How their coursework leads their enrollees to get access to Supportive Adults via B-U.


Learning the Tricks of the Trade

For the past few months, a New Forms and New Measures conversation is in the works with the Carpenters Union and Maritime work on the waterfront. We are working in a partnership to create a new credential that will get youth to pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship experiences without first receiving their GED or high school diploma allowing Harbor Freight Fellows a new avenue to pursue union work and not wait till students are 18 years old. This is a big step with lots of red tapes to unwind and rewind. The pilot work is being carried out in Philadelphia and Newark. In Newark, our principal, Mario Santos is involved and in Philadelphia, David Bromley from College Unbound is taking the lead. Charlie, Kurt, B-U/HFF Fellow Maddie, and I are also involved in creating this credential. This is the kind of work that we envisioned for the Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative where we take our practical program to become policy. “It’s just as important, valuable, and impressive to become an electrician, welder, or EMT as it is to go to Stanford, Dartmouth, or Harvard.” Beth spotted this quote from Governor Phil Scott of Vermont in the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Newsletter. Now let’s see what kind of programs are developed.

Happy Black History Month!

February 21st is John Lewis’ Birthday. “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble”

Dream Always


Elliot Washor

Co-Founder of Big Picture Learning

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