I have exhausted a lot of emotional energy this year facilitating our open, social learning environment at the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII). In my opinion, it is by far and above the best thing that we do at the school.
But it is really hard work. Really, really hard work. At PSII, our open environment, where each learner can interact with any other learner most of the day in small teams and groups, is fascinating to watch. And at times, very frustrating to watch (school would be so easy if it weren’t for the teenagers!). Through the good and the not so good, we have witnessed revolutionary social transformations in almost all of our students. I cannot overstate how powerful it is to see a teenager evolve from someone whose success was just being able to walk in the door last year to addressing the mayor in a council meeting to try to secure grants for a business idea this year. Night and day.
But again, it is really hard, exhausting work. I have had to deal with some major social issues. Like total team meltdowns. Or people not pulling their weight. Or dropping out of the team entirely 3/4 of the way through a major product in development. Or not showing up to a film shoot for 2 hours while everyone else had to wait and then the explosion, hard feelings and ruffled feathers that was the fallout. Or the supreme frustration of allowing teenagers to organize the complexities of film production and arranging schedules. I could go on…and on…
With that said, the learning that has come out these situations is what is allowing our students to truly understand what it means to build something together. True blue collaboration happens when if one person on the team does not show up, nothing can move forward. It requires every single person to make it happen. This necessitates risk taking on both the students’ and teacher’s sides. This is the learning that needs to happen in school.
Most students that I see get zero practice in this type of learning. The learners at PSII certainly did not have any at the beginning of last year. Nearly 2 years of slogging through the difficult, interpersonal situations of the creative process has learned these kids a thing or two about how to really work together. Hence, the blossoming of so many young minds.
Again, this is the learning we need today. It is very easy to know things – made significantly easier by Google. The real problem is learning how to work together in the most highly effective way to find solutions to roadblocks that inevitably arise in creative endeavors.
I strongly believe in leading by example. One of our students, who last year broke out and learned she can lead through directing her first film, “Hey Blondie”, continued that excellence through leading another diverse team of students directing a second film this year entitled, “A Light in the Forest”.
Out of all of the other teams that I was involved with this year, this learner was by far and above the most organized, well-rehearsed and had the most effective team under her leadership. I would personally recommend her to anyone – she is without a doubt going to succeed in being a team lead (which she did not think she was capable of 2 years ago).
If you have a moment, this is what effective social learning looks like in action:
The trailer (if you have minimal time):
The full film: