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Education Jam 2014


Calling all leaders and visionaries committed to transforming the education system!

We invite you for a unique opportunity to co-learn, co-create and JAM with a diversity of folks from around the US and beyond who are working in dynamic ways to change education as we know it.

The second annual Education Jam will take place from July 28 to August 3, 2014, at the Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire.

Apply today! Final application deadline: July 7th, 2014

More About the Education Jam

The heart of a Jam is creating space for transformation on the personal, interpersonal and systemic levels. At the Education Jam, we not only explore the ways education can be a place for transformation on those three levels — the personal, interpersonal, and systemic — we also create space for you to explore your own journey of transformation. This is a unique gathering for educators. Conferences often focus on one or two levels of change, but they rarely weave together changes in education with the personal journeys of educators. Retreats that focus on personal transformation often leave out systemic issues. At the Education Jam, we create a space that weaves the personal, interpersonal, and systemic together.
30 leaders and visionaries will gather for six days in a beautiful retreat center in the New Hampshire wilderness.  We will spend the time building community, deepening in stories and perspectives, sharing places of growth and struggle, and co-creating inspiration and vision.
We will be inviting folks from around the education world: public, private, independent, and charter schools, unschooling, homeschooling, learning communities, youth empowerment, and more. We acknowledge that in the education sector there is a fair amount of division around definitions of the “best way forward”. We also know that across the spectrum, people working in the education world are constantly giving of themselves. The Education Jam will make space to listen and learn from our diversity, engage in new synergies, find inspiration and rejuvenation, and begin to build towards a common vision with each of our own unique contributions.
Over the course of the whole Jam, we will have time to engage with questions like:
  • What is your personal story around education?  How do your experiences inform the path you have chosen to take?
  • What does learning mean to you?  What does unlearning mean to you?
  • What are your traumas and your triumphs around education?
  • When did your heart fully enter this work?  How are you fed and sourced in what you do today?
  • How are you living the values and world you are trying to create?
  • What kind of support do you need to help come into deeper alignment with that world?  What kind of support can you offer others to support their journey into deeper alignment?
We will use a variety of learning modalities – from movement and bodywork, to storytelling and myth making, to visual and performing arts, to small group dialogues, to whole group conversations.  There will be space for silence and for connecting with nature.  The Jam will unfold to make space for our whole selves, for our spirits, for one another, for our highest dreams and our deepest fears.  All of it will be welcome.
The Jam will create space for transformation on the personal, interpersonal and systemic levels.  As with other Jams, we are prepared to be surprised!  One hope is that people will have the opportunity to integrate their learnings and carry them home, to be able to find and connect with people who have the heart, spirit, skills and knowledge that they are needing for the next steps of their personal journey and the next steps of our collective journey.
This year’s Education Jam is excited to do some deep dives as a community into the themes of place-based learning, learning from/through/with nature, self-designed learning and design thinking, student leadership development, alternative assessment, and more… We are looking forward to co-creating these deep dives with the experiences, questions, struggles, and wisdoms of the community of people who will be gathering for the Jam.  At the moment, we are imagining two tracks:


Track One: Place Based Learning – Relocalizing education to learn from and with the people and places that surround us.

Imagine studying tectonic movement from the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon, or learning about the history of coal mining underground in a demonstration mine in West Virginia.  Imagine a social studies class on the settlement history of Maine where your teachers include the members of a multi-generational lobstering family, a local historian, and an elder from the native Penobscot community.  Imagine a school where the social reality and power dynamics of the students and their community is actually a part of the curriculum – where students learn to mediate conflict, articulate their own values and expectations, and consider the tension between their own individual needs and those of their community of peers.
In today’s conventional educational system, students are educated about the world while often isolated from it. As Elie Wiesel wrote, “[this system emphasizes] theories instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstraction rather than consciousness, answers instead of questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience.” How do we link, bridge or even replace our academics with learning from the places and communities in which we travel and call home? How can we bring classroom education back into the larger social and ecological context in which we live and situate ourselves in relation to systems of power? How can we analyze texts and theory not just for who and what is represented, but who and what is not represented? What are the implications and impacts of our studies?
In this track, we’ll explore these kinds of questions and share our experiences in seeking answers in different educational contexts. We’ll build a community of practice around the skills we need to both possess and teach in order to a) learn from the ecosystem in which we exist; b) build reciprocal relationships and hold accountability to individuals and communities we learn from and with; and c) contextualize our experiences within larger social and environmental frameworks.


Track Two: Democracy and Relevance – redesigning education through student and community leadership to create 21st century learning.

We are facing a rapidly a changing, global future that defies easy understanding. Fundamental ideas about education and learning are being altered by globalization and information technology. Students at every level of society and education need to learn how to be forward thinking, adaptive, and collaborative. What do we do? Imagine combining Paolo Freire and Design Thinking to build learning systems that teach students to work collaboratively to investigate what matters to them and to design new approaches to the future. This approach puts students in true leadership of their own education. It works in at any level of privilege, because it builds the skills to design new systems into the process of learning. For 15 years, Will Grant has been creating these learning systems in every situation from communities of undocumented workers in New Mexico to elite private schools in San Francisco. The outcome has been profound student leadership, school wide projects that make a difference in the community and academically rigorous courses that are also deeply relevant to the students’ lives.
In this track, we’ll spend three days investigating the ideas, tools and implementation of this approach to education. We’ll look at the range needed to integrate it into your classes – from the skills of student leadership development, to reorganizing power dynamics in education, to aligning the projects with curricular content standards (yes! It can be done), to how to have authentic and rigorous assessment that will satisfy the even the grumpiest administrators.

A small word about the ‘tracks’:

First, both tracks are explorations based in sharing. These are not workshops or trainings. We know you will bring unique ideas, experiences and questions.  They will be part of the Jam and we will be Jamming through them! Even if you have never done design or place-based education, your experiences in education will be one of the ways we make these discussions real.  Second, we will explore how these ideas can potentially mesh into all kinds of learning environments and communities – from public school classrooms with curricula standards to colleges to community centers, etc. When everyone is there to listen and learn from each other, we have found that there can be very rich and pragmatic dialogues between people coming from every kind of education field.  We will build in time for you to work on how to integrate the material into your form of education.


Who is putting this on?  More about the Organizers/Facilitators

Jonathan Peck, former President and CEO of the Tucson Urban League has over 23 years experience working within the community development field facilitating projects, coalitions, and alliances at the neighborhood, citywide, national and international levels. Jonathan received a BA in African African American Studies and Political Science from Earlham College. Jonathan worked as a community organizer, and later as Associate Director, of the Southwest Youth Collaborative (SWYC), a Chicago based organization dedicated to the development of low-income youth of color.  Jonathan Peck is married to Zelda Harris and has two beautiful sons, Jonathan Russell Thanh and Wesley Chapman Danh Harris-Peck. Jonathan works to impact the lives of children, youth and families through his commitment to criminal and juvenile justice initiatives, education and social services and economic and community development initiatives. Jonathan is passionate about sports, arts and culture and positive youth development and has over 23 years of experience in the community sports and youth development field. Jonathan has extensive international experience most notably, but not limited to, in Southern Africa and Latin America.


Heather HeadshotHeather Foran is a co-founder of the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that brings together youth from diverse backgrounds across the country to travel together in particular regions of the United States. Previous to founding the Field Academy, she worked as a program director and teacher for the Traveling School – a study abroad program for high school girls. She has developed experiential and place-based curricula around topics of human ecology, environmental and social justice, globalization and economic systems, alternative economies, identity, and systems of power.  Heather is a candidate for a Masters in Applied Organizational Development and Transformative Leadership at Prescott College and is currently building skills in transformative facilitation and emergent workshop design in cross-cultural settings. Based in Portland, Maine, she also works with the Resilience Hub – a permaculture meetup doing resilience-building and re-skilling in the urban and suburban areas around Portland.  For more information, you can check Heather out at: http://www.travelingschool.com/faculty.php – heather


Photo on 3-26-14 at 3.32 PM #2Will Grant was the co-founder and Executive Director for 10 years of BLAST, a multicultural organization that developed networks of leaders from marginalized communities to democratize education and social service systems in New Mexico. He was the national trainer for VALUE, developing democratic education systems in 10 states. He just left a gig on the other side of the class divide, working at a progressive High School to teach the children of privilege how to use their social position to design a world that integrates environmental regeneration, multiculturalism and participatory democracy. His current project is the Community Pungwe, a yearly gathering of change makers to integrate our work in ecology, the arts, law, education, spirituality, healing, and body-mind consciousness to develop alternative systems and culture to make the world just, beautiful and a lot more fun. For more information, you can check Will out at Pungwe.org


305278_10150359822245140_747470139_10190432_242988494_nShilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. YES! works with social changemakers at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal and systemic change, and aims to co-create a thriving, just and balanced world for all. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles, and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet’s Challenge to Schooling, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami (Walkout-Walkon) newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual.


Headshot 1Jen Lazar is a co-founder and the current Program Director of the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that strives to make learning and life indistinguishable for both students and educators.  Jen has been working alongside students and teachers to re-imagine and re-create education in the United States for ten years (and spent many years prior to that designing her own high school and college experiences).  Prior to her current experience with the Field Academy, Jen was the Associate Executive Director of the DREAM Program where she co-created mentoring and adventure programs with college students and high school students from affordable housing communities throughout Vermont.  She also served as a public school commissioner in Burlington, Vermont for three years during a period of socio-economic integration and transformation of the city’s elementary schools.  Jen believes in listening to young people and learning from and with them and is committed to creating spaces where that is possible.  In addition, she loves to bring people together around food, cook brunch, play Capture the Flag, and revel in the outdoors in just about any weather. You can learn more about Jen at www.fieldacademy.org.


Motaz-Attalla-168x300Motaz Attalla is a writer and education researcher based in Oakland, by way of Cairo. He has been working with young people and families on building more meaningful practices around education, learning and engagement with the world. Motaz co-founded and facilitates at the Middle East Youth Leadership Jam, a week-long gathering of young change-makers from across the Middle East. He also performs stand-up comedy, sometimes to mixed reviews and always with fear and a measure of good intent.
We would love to have you apply for the Education Jam online here.  The final deadline for applications is July 7, 2014.  If you have any questions, please contact our participant liaison, Heather Foran <hforan@gmail.com>

Looking forward to Jamming with you!

– Jen, Jonathan, Will, Heather, Motaz, and Shilpa