Imagine an entire regional education community – all daycare centers, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, graduate schools, as well as the teachers, parents, students, and administrators – living, from the first day of a child’s life, a shared understanding of why and how each child’s potential can be unlocked and how their gifts can benefit the larger community all share.
Imagine how people could be and what people could do in such a system.
Imagine how strongly all aspects of education could be integrated. How individual stories of success could become opportunities for the entire community to learn and grow. How supported and free the children would feel in the course of their development. How joyful and fulfilled teachers and administrators would feel in doing the work that originally called them to the profession. How proud parents would be to see their children discover their true potential.
Currently this remains only a vision because educational communities do not exist within an environment that allows this potential to manifest. They lack a true community supported by the five conditions of connection, grounding, informing, discussing, and engaging.
But that could be solved and it’s not rocket science.
Realizing this vision would require concrete, if limited, resources:
- A small team of generative community builders (2-3) devoted to nurturing the conditions of a vibrant educational community.
- Funding to support both narrative and convening activities.
- A minimum 5-year commitment.
The generative communities team would focus on nurturing the five conditions and their mutual support through a wide variety of practices:
- Annual summit of key community members (50-100) to build connection, develop understanding, and celebrate successes
- Create and share stories of individual people, schools, and projects for the community that increase their sense of knowing each other
- Create virtual networks of community members to link up communities of practice – one for administrators, one for gym teachers, another for those teaching reading, etc.
- Spend time connecting one-on-one with people throughout the educational community to hear their stories and discover what’s working
- Beginning community convenings with two simple questions – Who are you? Why are you here?
- Convening at annual summit around global context (such as https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/blog/changing-stories)
- Create and share contextual content around values, identity, and global trends
- Establish and curate a community wiki representing the cumulative, collective knowledge already present
- Create and share stories of what’s working in the community so that all can learn from them
- Share a consistent stream of knowledge, wisdom, and successes from beyond the community to inspire and inform
- Generative community builders track main topics of discussion, ensure that developing discussions are accessible to all community members
- Gather key interested community members to dig deep into core issues and push forward the state of the discussion
- Use all storytelling and convening as opportunities to nurture detailed, authentic, and nuanced discussions relevant to the community
- Summits, convenings, and narrative content all provide clear ways for community members to get involved. There’s always a “next step”.
- Host a public virtual space to let community members know what events, trainings, discussions, etc. are coming up
- Encourage community members themselves to become active agents in realizing the vision of a preferred future
Just like preparing the soil in a garden, none of these activities are a golden bullet. No single event or article or meeting or discussion can be the breakthrough to unleashing the community’s potential. Instead each one of them contributes to creating the right conditions for flourishing to happen.
In the end generative community builders don’t do anything themselves. They are a catalyst for a community to manifest its own potential. But it is clear that we are not realizing our potential in education communities around the world. We can do better.
Generative community building has the ability to unlock the potential in a regional education community in ways that have never been seen. Apprentices have long had supportive mentors, startups have had accelerators and incubators, and seeds have had gardeners. But never has an entire education community received the same focus and attention on supporting conditions that would allow it to achieve its full potential.
We can change that.