I think the mainstream expectations at schools are generally about performance and 'preparedness for the real world'. 


The real world is not a high stakes test. The real world is full of problems that require collaboration, persistence, and real empathy. 

I forget how unique it is to see students freely pursuing creative and rewarding work, and how different that can be from a 'typical' public school. We live in a school culture that is counter to the mainstream. We ride up against mainstream expectations each day. 

Take a moment and view this video from social researcher Brene Brown:

This week was typical at Great River  - I saw students ages 8 to 16 playing together each morning, teaching each other,
elementary students working on projects with junior high mentors, seniors planning a year-end intensive that focuses on celebrating their friendships, and a group of 14-16 year olds planning an end of the year memorial.

Our biology teacher Tami Limberg hosted a gathering of local community gardeners to work with our student urban farmers to build planting boxes for a mini- greenhouse in our garden, and our 7th and 8th year entrepreneurs planned carnival activities for Spring Fest. I saw dozens of students celebrating the return of spring by taking their independent work outside to the garden, to the courtyard, and to the sunshine, studying for IB exams, debating models of society, and enjoying each other...

I think the mainstream expectations at schools are generally about performance and 'preparedness for the real world'. The real world is not a high stakes test. The real world is full of problems that require collaboration, persistence, and real empathy. I see students working together in real understanding of each other, finding solutions to problems, and applying their knowledge and learning. I see students working with each other to engage in a world that demands their courage. I see students who are learning to persist through challenge, which will lead them to success in any profession, as well as success in building the relationships that will sustain their life. 

We work hard each day at Great River to create a space that is safe for vulnerable, creative human beings. In the safety of trying and persisting, of bringing ideas and We are so lucky to have a counterculture of valuing relationships, respect, and responsibility as the foundations of our learning. We live in a world that demands creativity, innovation, and change in reaction to a challenging future. Whetherour students will be veterinarians, doctors, engineers, or entrepreneurs, they will have to apply their ability to persist and work in teams to engage in solutions to our local and global challenges. The real world requires the vulnerable, empathy filled society that we strive for each day in our school. I am so proud of our students for the courage it takes to switch mindset and embrace a vulnerable culture at Great River.

Thanks to all 423 of our students ~
Sam


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AuthorSam O'Brien