While our focus was on learning how to evolve school post-pandemic, in our 100 Days conversations
the first question was not, “how would you change school?” Rather, we ask participants first to root in their own values, dreams, and beliefs by asking them to consider what makes a good life for them, and what makes the kind of thriving community they would want to inhabit. This was intentional - without shared visions
for our lives and communities, we cannot know how to start working together constructively.
As Robin D.G. Kelley notes, “Without new visions, we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down.” While we do want to change schools, and perhaps even knock down some of the current structures and approaches that are harmful, ultimately positive change doesn’t come from the tearing down process but from the building up together process.
When we asked about a good life, participants did not
linger too long, if at all, on traditional metrics of success like prominence, fame, money, career success, or power. Instead, a good life for participants was multifaceted
: they talked about
meaningful relationships with family, friends, and community, productive work, creative self-expression and the development of a sense of individuality, civic engagement and world-making - getting to work with others to influence the community and world they live in, being healthy - in mind, body, and spirit.
Perhaps proving themselves collectively as wise as Aristotle, participants also identified two preconditions to enjoying these elements: the freedom to make choices in their lives; and ensuring that basic needs
of safety, food, housing, etc., were met. Aristotle asserted that no person could experience true well-being if these two preconditions were not met by their context.