Education Design Lab
HundrED has not validated this innovation
What happens when education orients around LIFE?
Seven years ago, from the rich community and landscape of Floyd, VA, and the care of those who deeply longed for a more vital and creative culture, Springhouse emerged. Now, with a vibrant and devoted community to tend to it, Springhouse thrives. Springhouse is a case study from which Sourced Design emerged. Sourced synthesizes years of study in the application of living systems principles to human design, and the data gathered from the six-year case study of Springhouse. The design is shared through the Education Design Lab at Springhouse. We invite you to immerse yourself in the design, plant these practices like a seed, and wait for what emerges in your community. When it does, we hope the beauty of what emerges will motivate you to take care of it. There is so much we do not know when creating something new, but by taking the Earth’s lead and applying the wisdom of living systems principles to human design, we know that whatever emerges will be magic of the most rigorous kind; magic that this world so desperately needs.
The current Western educational model privileges linearity, preservation, and uniformity. The unsustainable values that this model perpetuates are now globally pervasive. From this design, practices emerge like standardized testing that promotes norming, a lack of creativity and adaptability, and uninspired learning environments that drain educators and learners. Further consequences exist like a disconnect between learners and their communities, very few practices that foster healthy identity formation, and teaching methodologies that further a disrespect for the individuality of each learner and educator. This current model can be slow to change, with innovations addressing the symptoms of a faulty foundation, rather than the stifling principles at the center of the design.
To address the current problem of how we educate, we must go to the center of the design itself. When a house is faulty at its foundation, it makes little sense to strengthen the structure by putting up curtains. Even though the process is complex and rigorous, the foundation itself must be addressed for transformation to occur.
There is so much out there about the challenges of the current education paradigm. If you would like to learn more, we suggest Dr. Bettina Love’s book, We Want to Do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. We also recommend this podcast Schooled in Democracy by Scene On Radio.
The way we educate young people is based on a design that is too small for what they, and their communities, are capable of. In partnership with other learning communities, Sourced Design addresses the very root of the problem by putting vitality at the center of the design, articulating practices for those interested in reimagining education by fundamentally reorienting the design itself, and creating a design community that supports a very rigorous creative process.
Educational design work is not for the faint of heart. Sourced Design gives those who have the courage and capacity to reimagine education from the ground up, the guidance and support they need in this rigorous creative process. This design is not prescriptive, and does not offer a singular answer to the very complex problem of the stifling nature of our current educational design. It does offer guidance and support from a vitality-centered, living systems design perspective.
The Sourced Design principles are grounded in living systems principles and the experience of an intergenerational community committed to redesigning education for the past seven years, Springhouse Community School. Through the Education Design Lab at Springhouse, designers engage in a co-creative design process that not only supports them, but furthers the development of the design itself through their participation.
To learn more about living systems principles and their application to educational design, please visit the work of Dr. Margaret Wheatley, Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, Dr. Barbara Widhalm, Dr. Greg Cajete, Sam Chaltain, and Terry Irwin.
WHAT MAKES SOURCED DESIGN UNIQUE?
This design differs from other efforts in education transformation in three primary ways. First, it fundamentally reorients educational design by centering vitality and freedom leading to life giving pedagogy and practice in the learning community. Humans have much to learn from how the Earth works. Its ability to adapt, and relate interdependently, are two examples of how we can build healthier learning communities. Secondly, the design gives others a well-established living laboratory to practice a radically different educational design informed by wisdom from the Earth in a community of courageous designers. For many, practicing these design principles is out of reach, with limited data to support their rigorously creative efforts. This design provides support and guidance to innovators who need it. Lastly, this design contributes to a growing body of knowledge, exploring how living systems principles can lead us to more vital and interdependent learning communities. Addressing the problem of stifling educational design at its core leads to different outcomes. It is vitally important that we have examples of what this can look like in practice. Data from an environment like Springhouse, and others case studies at the Education Design Lab grows, is needed to shift the paradigm as a whole.
.SCALING OF SOURCED AND APPLICATION TO NEW CONTEXTS
The Sourced Design is applicable to new contexts and scalable for two reasons. First, the design principles are universal, and therefore can be applied to emerging educational designs in ways that respect community and place. The design provides principles to guide the initial building of the macro learning structure like core identity formation around life giving values and creating pathways for feedback internally and externally. The design also provides practices for vitality-centered learning environments like cultivating personhood and respecting living systems principles in learning design and practice. These principles and practices are vast enough to be applied to diverse educational contexts, and defined enough to be usable. Secondly, the design will be shared through Education Design Labs that are held virtually due to the pandemic, but will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning in the future, to allow for participation globally. Participants are organized in cohorts that form a network of educational designers and case studies that we hope will eventually affect change at a macro policy level. This structure allows for not only scaling of the design, but through this design community of networked cohorts, brings much needed vitality to schools through work at the policy level.
Though the specific practices may differ, vitality-centered learning communities share these common practices. These five practices protect, foster, and make useful the vitality that lives within, and around, us. Through the case study of Springhouse, we have learned that when a learning community engages these practices in ways that are authentic to their place, vitality grows in each person, in the community itself, and in connection with the Earth and its wisdom.
TAKE CARE OF VULNERABILITY.
Where there is integration of intimacy with ourselves and with the world around us, we find connection. At the heart of this connection is vulnerability. Practices in vitality-centered learning communities invite this vulnerability forward in the individual, the community, and in connection with the Earth, and take care of it together.
Vitality-centered learning communities understand the uniqueness of each person as a gift that the world needs. Learning is designed in ways that honor individuality and bring forth the uniqueness of every learner. Practices that connect people to their bodies are crucial in fostering vitality. This embodiment is the foundation for all other practices that cultivate personhood which include mentoring, competency-based learning for all learners including adults, dance, singing, and more.
BUILD BELOVED COMMUNITY.
The term "beloved community" became known to many of us through the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other elders. The late Congressman, John Lewis, speaks to the power of beloved community and the role of education in that process. The twenty-five principles of beloved community have been outlined by Methodist Deacon Dr. Arthuree Wright and we could not state them better ourselves. These principles guide vitality-centered learning communities in relationship with each other and the larger communities they are embedded within.
RESPECT LIVING SYSTEMS PRINCIPLES AND THE WISDOM OF THE EARTH.
Humans have much to learn from how the Earth works. This design fundamentally reorients educational design by centering vitality, leading to life giving pedagogy and practice in the learning community. Vitality-centered learning communities, through their experimentation with these principles and practices, contribute to a growing body of knowledge that explores how living systems principles can lead us to more vital and interdependent learning communities.
LOVE AND SERVE OTHERS.
We orient around vitality in order to better love and serve the world. Vitality-centered communities do not shy away from the troubles of the world, but cultivate the life force needed to face what stands in the way of vitality and love. When vitality is at the center of educational design, community members understand that one purpose of education is to prepare us to serve the world with greater courage, creativity, clarity, and compassion.
QUESTIONS FOR DESIGNERS:
When you look at the five qualities of a vitality-centered environment, do you see any of those active in your current learning environment?
Do you see ways that you could do those practices in your current environment if they are not happening?
If you already orient around vitality in your design, are there qualities that are missing from this list or that you could strengthen by experimenting within a design community oriented around vitality
EDUCATION DESIGN LAB
Sourced Design supports those seeking to radically redesign education from its core. The Education Design Lab is a place where participants can experiment together and support one another, while also building a body of research in vitality-centered educational design through their case studies.
The Lab happens every trimester at Springhouse (fall, winter, and summer) and consists of three 2-hour workshops (described below), practice work, and peer mentoring in between workshops. Participants must sign up for the whole series as they are progressive in nature. Though workshops will be recorded, it is strongly encouraged to attend in person virtually.
The Education Design Lab gives users the support they need by offering practices to guide them, and a design community to learn from, and create with. The practices are grounded in living systems principles and the experience of an intergenerational community committed to reimagining education at its foundation for the past seven years. Through Education Design Labs at Springhouse, where the Sourced Design was first articulated, designers engage in a co-creative design process that not only supports them, but furthers the development of the design itself. Practice work and peer mentoring will be included to allow for participant’s continued learning in between our times together. We hope you will join us.
FACING EDUCATION: WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH EDUCATION AND WHY?
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ~ James Baldwin
In this lab we will explore the challenges we face with our current educational design as a whole. We will explore the core values that inform how and why we educate, and the impact of our current educational design. We will examine what is not working as we prepare to build new structures that respect and cultivate vitality and freedom. We will explore the work of scholars like Dr. Bettina Love, bell hooks, and others as we look to the past to inform the future.
TAKING THE HOUSE DOWN: REDESIGNING EDUCATION FROM CENTER
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~ Buckminster Fuller
In this lab we will use Springhouse Community School as a case study as we get to know the guiding principles of the Sourced Design and how we might begin to put them into practice in ways that respect our communities and place. We will also explore research and scholarship in the field of living systems principles including the work of Dr. Meg Wheatley, Terry Irwin, and others as we learn how we can apply the wisdom of the Earth to educational design.
SUSTAINING CHANGE:CREATING NETWORKS FOR CREATIVITY AND COURAGE
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward” -Martin Luther King Jr.
In this lab we will focus on how we must strengthen ourselves and our networks to sustain the change that is needed to redesign education. We will learn practices that help us to live with an experimentation mindset including cultivating inner resources, strengthening community building and Earth-based practices, and learning how to adapt to feedback and navigate the ambiguity and surprise that emerges in the design process. Participants will leave this lab with the support of an ongoing design community; one that will grow throughout the years as these design principles are practiced in communities around the world. The Sourced Design itself will grow and evolve as we create a path forward through educational design rooted in vitality and freedom.