Calling all leaders and visionaries committed to just, healthy and thriving education!
We invite you to a unique opportunity to co-learn, co-create and JAM with a diversity of folks from around the US and beyond, who are transforming education in dynamic and meaningful ways.
The 4th annual YES! Education Transformation Jam will take place from July 3 – July 9, 2017, in and around Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
This year, the Education Jam will be interwoven with the semi-annual Free Minds Free People (FMFP) conference. We are thrilled to be working with FMFP to make this possible. Read below for more details!
"I discovered that my healing was bound with yours, that my liberation was bound with yours, that my whole being (body, mind, and soul) was weaved into yours. I saw the thread that links the personal, the interpersonal, and the systemic intimately, dimensions of my struggles, and I began to envision that a different story was possible. You made me see the possibilities, the gateways, the bridges, the light. You made me feel whole again."
– Anne, 38, liberal arts university professor, Cairo and Switzerland
What is the YES! Education Transformation Jam?
This is a unique gathering for folks engaged in education.
The YES! Education Transformation Jam (Ed Jam, for short) brings together 30 leaders and visionaries from across the oft-divided education world: public, private, independent, and charter schools, unschooling, homeschooling, learning communities, youth empowerment, and more. We will explore our experiences and visions of education, build relationships, deepen our perspectives of challenging questions, share places of growth, struggle and healing, and have a lot of fun.
The Ed Jam weaves the personal, interpersonal, and systemic together — from the deep motivations of why we are called to be in this field, to the challenges and community that race, gender and class diversity bring to learning, to the full possibilities of what education can be in this transforming world. Unlike many education conferences that focus on systemic questions and rarely weave together connections to our own life journeys — or personal retreats that focus on self-transformation and leave out systemic issues — the Jam seeks to address both of these levels, as well as the very vital area of interpersonal connection, learning and healing. All fields of transformation are brought together in a shared space co-created by all of the participants.
The Ed 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. Though some dialogues about education end up being debates about "the right way forward", the Jam connects people from very different educational approaches to share our fields' strengths and challenges and to explore our ‘unknowns’ together.
At the Ed Jam, we not only explore the ways education can be a place of empowerment for young people, we also create space for you to explore your own journey of transformation as a co-learner and co-creator. We invite you to join us!
“I literally feel like I have more room to breathe in my body. THank you…for inviting me to stretch….I came looking for support with transformation and in my transition, in becoming a better educator and human being. I received both in expected ways – new tools for thinking, dialoguing, listening – and unexpected ways – eye contact, time, songs, gifts, the beauty of nature, fire, games, and play…I leave you with a vision of education that includes compassion, joy, love, art, laughter, play, intellect, challenging reflection and conversation, listening, movement, and breath.”
– Miyo, 33, high school teacher, New York City, NY
Why Education Transformation Jam now?
In these times when violence, white supremacy, militarism, colonialism, and patriarchy that have lived in our histories continue to be given power and voice in our governments, and when many of our communities are under attack, we recognize that on a personal level educators often carry a great deal in the name of care for others and that there is a need for us to build resilience and deepen our rootedness. On an interpersonal level, we seek to deepen relationship across difference, to see and support each other, to play together, and to build strength to have conversations that need to happen while rooted in love. On a systemic level, we come together to share our work and to build our collective visioning of the education that the world needs, to face this violence and to transform.
“In a sense, the jam was a refuge, but not a place where I hid. A place where I could unfold…I learned so uch about the incredible work that is being done to foster real, holistic learning and I finally understand what a group of changemakers looks like. I am confident that the change that I want to see is not only possible but unavoidable…You have taught me that change is powerful no matter what the scale. I am excited to go forward loving myself and nurturing my body, soul, and mind in a way that will make me be whole and allow me to be present where good work is needed.”
– Laura, 21, university student and youth mentor, Philadelphia, PA
Connecting with the Free Minds Free People Conference
This year, the YES! Education Transformation Jam is integrated with the Free Minds Free People conference, held in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, from July 6-9, 2017. The YES! Education Transformation Jam will meet together for three days from July 3-6 at the Farm of Peace, in Warsfordburg, PA, just outside of Baltimore, and then will join with the FMFP conference. The Jam will continue to hold sessions throughout the conference for Jam participants as an ongoing community of practice and reflection.
Free Minds, Free People is a national conference that brings together teachers, young people, researchers, parents and community-based activists/educators from across the country to build a movement to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation. We seek to develop ways of teaching and learning both in and out of school that help us to build a more just society. The conference is a space in which these groups can learn from and teach each other, sharing knowledge, experience and strategies. Click here to read more about FMFP’s mission and goals.
Families are welcome to the Jam! We will have childcare at the retreat center outside of Baltimore, and FMFP provides childcare as well. Children are also welcome — there are a lot of family-friendly sessions — and the conference as a whole is a rich learning ground for families. So come with your biological families and/or families of choice!]
What happens at the YES! Education Transformation Jam?
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 triumphs and your traumas around education? How are they shaping your work in the world?
• How have you and how do you approach identity questions, like race, class, gender, and sexuality, in your learning journey?
• When did your heart fully enter this work? How are you fed and sourced by 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?
• What are the advantages and challenges you are facing in reforming or recreating education? Or creating something that does not even have a box yet?
• How do you create and implement your systems and visions of education?
Most importantly: What are your questions? They are essential and welcome too.
When we say it’s a Jam (and not a workshop or seminar), we mean that as an organizing team we’ve brainstormed these questions as a foundation, but each Jam is co-created by everyone who attends. We like to say that ‘the Jam is always on.” There are sessions where facilitators offer a set of activities meant to engage the heart, soul, body and mind. These are designed to engage themes that emerge from the participant’s initial applications. These sessions grow, shift and change based on who is present in the room and what emerges from the group. Outside of the sessions there is a lot of time and space for small group conversations, playing, scheming, reflecting, hiking, exercising and the Fine Art of Hanging Out — whatever the groups or individuals choose to create.
Everyone co-creates the jam through a variety of learning modalities – small group dialogues, whole group conversations, movement and bodywork, systems thinking, storytelling and myth making, visual and performing arts, and more. 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.
"I am healed and transformed in ways that are fueling so many concrete, tangible, and lasting changes in my work. What I want to make clear is that not only have I been healed (which makes the way for more healing) within myself, in my relationships, and in my role in the systemic world of institutions and social systems, but my day to day work will never again be the same."
– Angela, 32, early childhood educator and PhD candidate, Los Angeles, CA
Cost, Travel and Logistics
The YES! Education Transformation Jam will take place in two locations. From July 3rd afternoon to July 6th morning, we will be at Farm of Peace. Jammers will be sharing rooms and enjoy healthy, locally-sourced, delicious meals there. From July 6th through 9th, we will be on-site at the FMFP conference.
We ask that each Jammer make their way either directly to the retreat center, and/or to the city/airport of Baltimore, and from there we will organize local transport and carpools.
Please contact our logistics coordinator, Heather Foran <firstname.lastname@example.org> to get support with food, housing, and transport. A few partial travel scholarships are available as well, so please contact us if you are in need of them.
The tuition cost of the Jam is a sliding scale from $600-$1100, which includes registration for the FMFP conference.
The true cost of the Jam (including food and lodging for Farm of Peace, as well as registration and lodging for FMFP) is: $950 ($275 covers food, shared housing and local transport for three nights at the retreat center; $250 covers program costs (organizing time, facilitator honorarium, childcare, materials, etc.), $275 covers shared hotel rooms at the FMFP conference (2 people per room), $150 covers our FMFP registration). Any additional payment that people are able to make would go directly to financial support for others to attend this jam.
(Please note: Food is not included in our FMFP conference time, so that will be an additional cost during that time.)
We never want money to be a barrier to anyone's participation. Please contact us and we will do everything we can to make it work for you to participate. We can work with a combination of payment, partial scholarship, work trade, and monthly payment plan. We can also offer support around personal fundraising ideas as well. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about tuition costs and how to make it work for you.
If it’s available, we also encourage you to access your institution/organization’s professional development budget, to help to cover some of these costs. We have a letter you can share with them in this regard.
Who Is Putting This On? More about the Organizers/Facilitators
Shilpa 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, Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual.
Heather Foran is a co-founder of the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that brings together diverse youth from across the country to travel together in particular regions of the United States. Heather has over 12 years of experience in building educational travel and solidarity education programs focused on the intersection of ecology, economics, and social justice. She completed a Masters in Transformative Leadership, with a thesis examining educational travel from a decolonization lens. In addition to co-directing the Field Academy, she currently serves on the board of the Southern Maine Workers Center and is an organizer with a permaculture network in Portland, ME.
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.
Will 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. He is the founder of FAIR Classrooms, a project to help schools integrate LGBTQ history into their curricula (FAIRclassrooms.org). 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
Jen Lazar is a co-founder & director of the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that strives to make learning and life indistinguishable for both students and educators. She is also the Education & Outreach Coordinator at 350VT. Prior to her current work, Jen helped run the DREAM Program where she co-created mentoring and adventure programs with college and high school students from affordable housing communities throughout Vermont. She also served as a public school commissioner in Burlington, Vermont for three years. She loves to cook brunch, play Capture the Flag, and revel in the outdoors in just about any weather.
Motaz Attalla is a writer and education researcher based in Oakland, by way of Cairo. He has been working for many years with young people and families on building more meaningful practices around education, learning and engagement with the world. Motaz co-founded and facilitated at the Middle East Youth Leadership Jam, a week-long gathering of young change-makers from across the region. He also performs stand-up comedy, sometimes to mixed reviews and always with fear and a measure of good intent. Motaz’s current focus is on working with groups of people who are trying to collaboratively address complex, systemic challenges. He is also addressing, together with his wife, the complex–if not quite systemic–challenge of raising their two, small and seldom-cooperative children. Also he’s really into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
If you have any questions, please contact us at <educationyesjam[@]gmail.com> Thanks!