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Codesign and the Liberated Spirit of Your Learning Community

Pam Moran, Ira Socol — Virginia School Consortium for Learning, SocolMoran Partners

How do adults help young people get ready to succeed in an unpredictable future? Thinking of students as the owners of schools might sound like a radical idea, but if it is, codesigning learning represents just one of the radical reinventions our schools need as we educate children who will live into the 22nd century. If educators believe in a vision that young people own their own learning, how do we begin to see them as owning the environment and settings of their schools? What if the spirit of the community was grounded in learning partnership, not hierarchy?

The young people we have known, in many places, at every age, are incredible humans who have not yet learned what they cannot do - unless we tell them that aggressively and continually. They are the definition of potential, living a “growth mindset” without any coaching. They are creative, communicative, investigative, exploratory - unless we stop them.

Despite successes we have witnessed first-hand in alternative public schools such as the Science Leadership Academy and STEAM Academy in Lexington, Ky., it seems extraordinarily difficult for comprehensive public PK-12 systems to change to practices that lead to young people being fully participatory in designing their own learning rather than existing apart from it. Yet, it can happen.

We believe codesign is a solution path to making young people partners in and architects of their own learning. Let’s imagine together how codesign can change cultural, social, economic, and generational norms usually held static in a school community.

Conversational Practice

We’ll share a few codesign stories and then explore codesign together through participant-generated questions, discussion, and collaborative experience. We’ll kick out a few ideas from codesigners (learners and teachers) we have worked with, facilitate group conversation, and work together to construct how time, space, pedagogies, culture, and technologies shift in a codesigning learning community. Participants will exit with codesigned learning intentions to engage young people of all ages together in codesign with the aim of amplifying learners’ agency, voices, and influence in their class, school, and greater community. In light of the intensity of the last few years of disruptions to and within school communities, we will focus on rejuvenation, reimagination, and reconnection through collaborative codesign processes.

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