Education that Accelerates Movements for Change

School teacher What qualifications do we want people have, to teach classes on behalf of Creating the Future?

That question, in any other realm, might begin a conversation that brainstorms qualifications. People might suggest bringing in a faculty development expert. Others might begin suggesting one-on-one mentorships or online classes or other formats for instruction. The question would no doubt breed related questions of “What topics?” and “What content?” and “What format?”

But Creating the Future is a community filled with people who are suspicious of answers until they feel comfortable that they are answering the right question.

Not surprisingly, therefore, as we set out to explore the question of qualifying instructors to teach on behalf of Creating the Future, the questions were our first concern. What questions would create the context for finding the most appropriate and effective answers?”

And so, the search began. Given Creating the Future’s mission – create the world we want by amplifying and accelerating the broad movements that already exist to create that world, what types of education amplify and accelerate movements?

We played around with that question, thinking about movements as grand as the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the US and as local as movements to organize a small neighborhood. Education that has amplified those movements has been…

• Education that reaches people just when they are ready to hear it.
• Education that is practical for what people need right now.
• Education that provides the opportunity to practice.
• Education that is strategy-focused, done in close proximity to people as they are doing their on-the-ground work.

Certainly a larger context than “We need a curriculum expert,” but it still felt too narrow. If that was the education that was available, what would it make possible for the people within those movements? Which led to wondering…

What is a movement anyway? What defines a “movement?”

• Movements are about hope – hope for change.
• Movements are about the feeling that the time has come. That enough people believe that what they have quietly wanted for decades and generations can now happen.
• Movements happen when people say “Enough!”
• Movements are easy for people to plug into wherever they feel they fit. There are practical things people can do, at whatever point they want to join in.
• Movements are about a meeting of the heart. At the core, movements are about shared values.

Ah! Shared values! Shared longing! Shared hope!

Perhaps the kinds of education that will accelerate movements for creating a world where all beings live well will be education that guides people to BE that world now! Isn’t that what is at the heart of Creating the Future’s work – the “thinking and being” that leads to the “doing”? How could education programs help people see that they can BE the world they want, right now?

And so a new question: What causes people to see differently?

• For people to see differently, the message must come from someone they trust.
• For people to see differently, conditions must build trust – often in crisis.
• For people to see differently, there must be demonstrations, stories.
• For people to see differently, there must be the sense that they are stepping into a safe space.
• For people to see differently, sometimes they need to hit rock bottom.

Again, we dug deeper. While it is indeed common that people may hit “rock bottom” before they are ready to see things differently, must that always be the case? We know that people who are in a place of “everything is just fine” must first realize that everything is not fine before they can reach for more. And we know that Creating the Future’s current courses help people move through those stages. And so…

A new question emerged: What caused you to participate in Creating the Future’s programs? What caused you to say, “This is a place I want to be”?

• The thought that my community deserves the best, and I want to be that for them.
• The thought that I deserve to be the best I can be!
• The thought that if I am to reconnect to my community, I must first reconnect to myself. That unless I am whole, I can’t serve others.
• The connection with people who are connected to values in a practical way – connecting values to practical work.
• The thought that Care and Love bring about change. The fact that “care and love” flows through the course, through the Creating the Future community, and then through the groups I work with, which allows them to grow and change.
• The spiritual component of movements, linking self to society.

Which led to linkages.

• The link between small self and big self – a collective sense of self.
• The link between individual mindfulness and social mindfulness (as expressed by Dave Svet and Zach Braiker in our messaging meeting several weeks ago)  
• The link that movements create, for individuals to become part of the whole, to reach collective impact through individual participation
• The link between care and love and values, and practice and practical

We began talking about all of this within a context of Service Learning – not the cold definitions one reads about “community service” but the heart of that learning – reflection, authenticity, empowerment through finding one’s voice, through deep engagement. 

Which finally led to the answer to the question we sought when we began:

What education will amplify and accelerate movements to create the world we want?

It will be education that reaches people when they are ready to hear it, in ways that help them see differently, with the ability to immediately put what they learn into practice with what they need right now.

It will be education that builds trust and shows others how to build trust.

It will be education that helps people step through the various stages in their own personal development, linking the personal to the communal, the individual to the community, all as we move through what may be painful (individually or collectively) to come out the other side towards what is possible.

And most importantly, it will be education that links the spiritual to the practical, giving people ways to act upon their values, to BE “care and love” right now, and to help others be that as well.

That is what our education efforts must be at the core, if they are to accomplish Creating the Future’s mission of creating the world we all want by being that world now.

And as I reflect on what to teach and how to teach it, I cannot help but smile at the lesson within the lesson. That yes, the group found the kernel upon which we can now grow faculty and curricula. But that the path to those answers was found by reaching for the larger context. And that all of that was found in the willingness to ask a bigger question.

You can watch the full meeting or listen (MP3 is below the video) – and please share your thoughts as you explore these questions with us!!

Listen to the Audio Only:


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1 thought on “Education that Accelerates Movements for Change”

  1. Being present as members of boards of local organizations helped me a lot to learn how to work toward change. Then seeing the needs to step up and help run meetings and lead groups felt almost natural. What did I learn in school, in the classroom, that made me want to be engaged? I’m not really sure. I volunteered a lot from a young age. That led me to meet and learn about people from lots of different age groups and social strata. I have to say that a local AAUW chapter really helped (surprisingly!) to spark me to be more active.

    Right now we are seeing what is called a “takeover” of the County government and public school system in my community, and it is really disheartening because I think that it will inject money politics directly into the classroom. My teachers over the years were NEVER wealthy businesspeople, so I am concerned about what this is going to do to the principles and causes in the community that I think matter.

    I am thinking how this kind of discussion would work in my community!


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