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Education, Knowledge, Learning

April 28, 2011 | Old School | New York City

With Marcelo Figueras, Esther Klein Friedman, Juan Carlos Mestre, Gunnhild Øyehaug, and Shanley Rhodes; curated by Eric Pliner

Debates about the nature of effective school and preparation for global competitiveness are weighted by rhetoric and have obscured a fundamental question about learning and development: what does it mean to be educated? What is the obligation of society to educate its young people? And in a time of increasing global interconnectedness tempered with critical, sustaining cultural distinctiveness, what can, should, or must all young people deserve and expect to learn?

The following statement was issued by participants at the conclusion of this workshop.

We believe that all young people and adults deserve the right to find and excavate our humanity, to make ourselves understood, and to tell our stories. We believe in a civil right of imagination and that imagination and humor belong in learning and teaching.

We believe that all young people and adults deserve the right to bring our dreams from the shadows into the light, to consider our choices and control our own lives. We believe that all young people and adults deserve the right to fail, so long as we have had genuine opportunity and help to succeed, even in the most challenging circumstances. We believe that everyone deserves the right to say, “I don’t know,” and deserves the right to work hard to find answers.

We believe that all young people and adults deserve the right to engage in meaningful work and have both the right and the responsibility to learn something new every single day.

We believe in the power of science, especially neurobiology, to teach us about learning and to help us to learn about teaching. We believe in the need for all people to have visual, aural, and kinesthetic learning experiences and exposure.

We believe that schools should foster more opportunities for exploration and should expose our youngest learners to multiple ideas and perspectives without judgment or preconceptions.

We believe that all young people and adults deserve the right to have their questioning be nurtured, to be subversive, to have the language of power and the power of language. Creemos que la belleza de las lenguas ajenas es el mestizaje de la verdad.

We believe that all young people and adults have the right and the obligation to see beyond borders, real or imagined, to try on another’s shoes. We believe that a critical role of literature is to enable us to view the world from another’s perspective.

We believe that all adults deserve the right to participate in a democratic society intelligently, that no group of people is dispensable, and that all young people deserve the right to build the knowledge, skills, and right tools to someday participate as adults.

We believe that teachers have the opportunity and the gift to nurture a spark that was nurtured in them, with reverence and gratitude. They and their students have the right and the obligation to listen more and talk less.

We believe that we must keep open the door to divine and esoteric sources of knowledge. We believe in the sweetness of acts of awareness.

We believe our destiny is tied to the destiny of our planet, and that we must teach and learn urgency, urgently.

We believe in the power of play, that artistry is like bread for everyone, and that poets are the legislators of the universe.

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