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Wonder Workshops: Bringing Identity and Inquiry Into Schooling: What Now? Ep. 9 with Lisa Bergman and Lisa Diaz

It’s commonly observed that a school’s culture for children is a mirror of a school’s culture for adults. At Mt. Pleasant’s Renaissance Public School Academy, as you can see in today’s interview, we find a culture where passion and curiosity, alongside a generously nourishing attitude for children, is modeled at all levels. This interview, the first we’ve done with a district leader and one of her board members, is a helpful lesson that when you embrace inquiry and exploration at the top, you will see inquiry and exploration in the classroom.

Furthermore–this interview with Lisa Bergman, the Executive Director, and Lisa Diaz, a board member, is a demonstration of creative, productive collaboration. Often, our best learning comes when we tackle questions as a community, push each other, ask questions, and wrestle through, knowing there’s no “right” answer. Again, when I reflect on what Lisa and Lisa demonstrate in this conversation as thought partners to each other, I think about how they are essentially modeling inquiry-based education for their students. For them, the inquiry is how to make school richer and more meaningful for their students, by allowing their students to show up in their own identity, take risks, and pursue the answers to the questions that interest them. You can imagine how exciting it might feel to be a teacher in this school, where inquiry and innovation are modeled by the leaders.

This interview isn’t just full of abstraction–but examples. For instance, the school’s wonder workshops are occasional projects where each student becomes an expert on a topic and then shares that expertise with classmates. The topics, from pokemon to horses and anything real (or imagined) in between, allow students the opportunity to shape their learning, build confidence from their growing expertise, respond to feedback, and learn more about the other students in their community.

I hope you enjoy hearing about this, alongside other tangible strategies the school has put in place to allow students to grow in wonder and in skill.

This interview is a part of our What Now? video interview series on education.

What Now? asks: how should we navigate through this pandemic, and ensure a more prosperous Michigan in our recovery? Click the icon for other videos in this series.

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Sarah Szurpicki

Sarah is the Vice President for Michigan Future Inc. and a partner at New Solutions Group, LLC, a consulting firm devoted to smart, collaborative, innovative approaches for organizations serving the public good.

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