A Richmond Revolution... and Some Missing Voices

Posted by Nicki Peasley Share Your Voice

An energized crowd left Binford Middle School last night after a two hour discussion on revolutionizing education in Richmond.  VCU’s School of the Arts hosted this follow through event to continue the conversation started at last weekend’s Forum event with Sir Ken  Robinson and Rafe Esquith.  Thanks to Sara Wilson McCay and a a panel of inspiring facilitators for bringing us all together!

Two sets of questions framed the break-out group dialogues.  The first revolved around the teacher learner relationship and the reciprocity of learning.  The second around change and what it takes to manifest it.  

Common themes that emerged:

  • The teacher-learner relationship is sacred. A deep personal connection at this level allows for reciprocal and sustained learning.
  • We’ve created a fear-based system of education.  It starts at the top and trickles all the way down to the young people in the classroom.  Trust is an essential missing piece that needs to be integrated throughout the system.
  • We must start with the question, What is schooling for?  And from there be willing to re-invent education.
  • We’ve hit a tipping point that will ultimately lead to a shift from standardized testing to a project, technology based approach to assessment.  It’s time that our young people stop “bubbling” and start thinking and creating.
  • When we truly respect our young people, and empower them to find and use their voice, their curiosity and desire to learn will guide their education—not the question, “What do I have to know for the test?” 
  • We must facilitate the connection between school and community, creating diverse environments in which young people can discover their passions.
  • Young people must be taught to problem solve, inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Teachers must be willing and encouraged to take risks and given the freedom to fail.  And the system must be willing to absorb potential failure and learn from it.
  • We cannot overlook the role that poverty plays in our educational system—a young person’s basic needs must be met before he or she can learn. 
  • Administrators, teachers, and parents need to stop blaming each other and become a united force in revolutionizing education together.  
  • Change comes from the bottom up.  It starts with us.

What does the education look like in 2025? (a few highlights)

  • Teachers act as facilitators and students as agents of learning.  Grades are secondary, at best.
  • The demise of the neighborhood school--bigger buildings are erected to force a diverse demographic.
  • Learning happens inside and outside of the classroom with community and technology playing key roles.

A Bounce Perspective

This is all great stuff and we are so excited to be in the conversation with like-minded parents, educators, and concerned citizens.  And this is the product of adult thinking.   We want to know what young people think.   And, sadly, if they can think.  If we are doing our job as parents and educators, our young people will challenge us with some innovative approaches toward a new vision for education .   They will tell us what we need to figure out and what we need to be willing to do.   We just have to give them the opportunity to share their voice (and hope we’ve empowered them enough to know what that voice is). 

The question that really got our attention was posed at the Forum by a high school student and highlighted in the bulletin for this follow-through event:  “According to a US government study, $72 trillion will be lost over the next few decades because our education system cannot meet the demands of the global economy.  I am a future policy maker.  What can I do to reform of revolutionize the American Education System.” –Matthew King

Well, Matthew, let’s be in the question together. What do you think?   We really want to know.   (and we’re in the process of creating an opportunity for you to tell us).

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Small Nicki Peasley I am the CEO of my home, managing a team consisting of a 40 year old, an 11 year old, an 8 year old, and a 6 year old. In my spare time, I am the YOUth development director for Bounce, writing curriculums and working (playing and learning) with elementary and middle school youth.


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