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4.6.2024 |

Community Lead: Nathan Strenge

Drawing on his classroom experiences, Community Lead Nathan Strenge now works to reinvent our understanding of what learning spaces should look like. What do we teach? How do we teach it?

What is your name?

Nathan Strenge

Where do you call home?

St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

How does education fit into your life?

Transforming education into something that truly adapts to the unique needs and gifts of all learners is a big part of my life’s calling. I was a high school classroom teacher for 10 years, winning a national teaching award early in my career created several opportunities for me. One of those opportunities led to the founding of a new high school in Minneapolis, called Exploration High School, where I am Board Chair and Head of Vision Alignment. I work full-time at Fielding International, a global company that designs schools where learners thrive. In that role, I help schools identify the right problems to solve, working with them to create ideal learning environments and authentic learning experiences.

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Student voice is paramount in the design of learning spaces at Nathan's organsation, Fielding International

What brought you to educational innovation?

Early on as a teacher, I saw firsthand how antiquated our educational system was. I knew I had to explore different pathways to creating more authentic, more relevant, more future-ready learning experiences. I was motivated to innovate by so many of the young people I saw who felt disengaged with their school experience.

What are your biggest inspirations in educational innovation?

Seeing pockets of transformational learning around the world. Whether it is transformational pedagogy at High Tech High, creating future leaders for Cambodia at Liger Leadership Academy, connecting young people from around the globe at Link Online Learners (just to list a few), there are so many incredible things happening in pockets around the world. It is up to all of us to take those amazing things happening in pockets and make them accessible to young people everywhere.

What challenges do you see facing the educational system today?

Despite a rising tide of awareness in society that our education systems are not meeting the needs of our young people, there is a great deal of complexity in changing antiquated systems. This challenge is exacerbated by the historical lack of investment in research and development (R&D) in the educator sector. By one researcher’s account, the educator sector has historically invested about 0.5% in R&D, compared to many other sectors who invest upwards of 10-20%. There is also a question of who is going to drive educational transformation? Will it be governments, reshaping policies to foster innovation for top-down effect? Will it be teachers, shifting pedagogical approaches in a grassroots effort? Will it be young people, demanding something that is more authentic and more relevant? Will it be media, showing a reimagined future of learning? These are questions that will shape the direction education will go in the coming decades, and with all the existential challenges we face right now as humans, the way we respond will alter the course of history.

What are your hopes for the future of education?

I have many hopes, but at the core of it is that education becomes a truly human-centered field. Schools become community-connected havens of wellness, curiosity, joy, and intergenerational learning. Kids have ample opportunities to play, be in nature, connect with people in their community, engage in meaningful learning experiences, and discover who they are as a person with unique needs and special gifts.

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Learning happens indoors and outside

Why did you choose to become a Community Lead?

I have been blessed with opportunities as a learner and as a professional that has given me insight into what the future of education can be, and how that will lend itself to a more humane, loving, and sustainable society. I feel it's my responsibility to contribute leadership to turn that vision into a realized future, and being a Community Lead is a tangible way to do that.

What are your goals as a Community Lead?

Find ways to contribute my skills and network for the good of the order.

Bring my full self into the work.

How can our members get involved?

Connect with me, share the good work you’re doing, and see if there’s a way we can support the growth of the people around us.

Continue the conversation! Connect with Nathan.