A ‘North Star of Hope’ for Education and the World

A ‘North Star of Hope’ for Education and the World

Dr. Lindsey Nicole Godwin reflects on the recent World Positive Education Accelerator

In considering the broad topic of reimagining democracy, the element of education is absolutely vital. “What happens in our school systems is a result of a demand by large systems for numerate and literate workers more than 150 years ago,” writes Axiom News founder and CEO Peter Pula. “That we still educate that way is atrocious. Schools too can to be reimagined and integrated into community life in much richer ways.”

“Rather than educating children to be economic producers, we could be supporting them to discover their giftedness, purpose, agency, and the arts of associational life.”

On June 25-28, 2018, the second Festival of Positive Education plus Appreciative Inquiry Summit, otherwise known as the World Positive Education Accelerator (WPEA), took place in Fort Worth, Texas.

“The WPEA represented a north star of hope, in what sometimes might feel like a dark night sky of our larger global narrative,” says Dr. Lindsey Nicole Godwin, Academic Director of the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College.

Axiom News interviewed Lindsey via e-mail about the WPEA and the possibilities it represents for education going forward. Here’s what she had to say.

AN: What’s most alive for you as you reflect on the World Positive Education Accelerator?
Lindsey: Reflecting on the World Positive Education Accelerator, where we had over 800 people from over 30 countries convene for four days in Fort Worth, Texas, what is most alive for me is the sense of a collective global will and desire to bring positive education to all learners. This is an idea who’s time has come, and the energy that was unleashed was contagious, but more so, the sense of a shared higher-purpose was clear…this work is not a “nice to have” in today’s world, it is a critical necessity in ensuring that we are supporting our next generations to become fully flourishing humans. It was amazing to watch the awakening of a global collective consciousness around positive education. 

  “I hold a personal commitment to helping evolve our educational systems in ways that will allow every learner to be their best selves every day; a hope I have for every student around the globe.”
— Dr. Lindsey Nicole Godwin
   

AN: What did you notice? Do you have an anecdote to illustrate?
Lindsey: I noticed how the concept of positive education transcended all geographic and political boundaries that we have artificially created across our globe. The idea of “positive education" was not seen as coming from or owned by a particular country or region, but rather it seemed to be embraced as a fundamental reflection of our shared humanity. Regardless of nationality, there was a shared sense that everyone wants every learner to flourish as a person in addition to succeed academically regardless. It is as if positive education is a universal language! For example, during the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Summit during our “discovery” phase, people were in dialogue at “max-mix” tables, and during the reports outs to the plenary, we continually heard “We are a UN of Positive Education at our table, with people from countries X, Y, and Z all here.” And their hopes for the future echoed similar notes regardless of who was speaking.
 
AN: How would you describe the energy around what you noticed? If you had to give that energy a colour, what would it be, and why?
Lindsey: The energy was contagious! From our spontaneous “dance party” to Pharrel Williams’ song "Happy” lead by Sir Anthony Seldon, to the creative skits and prototyping that working groups did, the positive energy was palpable throughout the event. If I were to put on my UV glasses and see a color aura around us, it would be a rainbow. It was as if we had a melding of energy from different ages, professions, and cultures that created a beautiful rainbow of colors that made a more beautiful picture together than individually.

AN: What’s the commitment you hold that brought you to invest in WPEA in the way that you did? What did that investment look like for you?
Lindsey: As the Academic Director of the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College — which was one of the co-convenors of the WPEA along with IPEN — I had a deep commitment to this work and in creating a generative space and process that would allow the world to come together and advance this work. Along with my wonderful colleagues, we spent over two years planning for this event… from our steering committee planning meeting that involved over 100 people from 15 countries, to working to ensure that we had delegations from around the world able to participate, to organizing speakers, to designing the AI summit process, and then co-facilitating the event with my colleague David Cooperrider, it was a true passion project. On a more personal note, as the mother to two young learners myself, and a teacher myself to many college students, I hold a personal commitment to helping evolve our educational systems in ways that will allow every learner to be their best selves every day; a hope I have for every student around the globe.

AN: How would you describe what WPEA represents within the larger global narrative today?
Lindsey: The WPEA represented a north star of hope, in what sometimes might feel like a dark night sky of our larger global narrative. While many headlines around the world today are anxiety provoking, the WPEA helped remind us what can happen when people come together around the shared purpose for making the world a better place.

AN: What’s the best thing that could happen now?
Lindsey: The best thing that could happen now is that the 25 design teams which were launched, each with their own inspirational ideas and concrete action plans for moving forward, would continue their action steps to turn their inspiration into action.

AN: What would you like, want, or need from the community to make that happen?
Lindsey: To help support this work, others can join our collaborative community platform (powered by WeTipp) to join working groups and/or provide information and resources to those looking for it. We need to continue sharing our progress moments and global learnings together to ensure we are accreting positive education at a global level.

AN: What’s your next step?
Lindsey: Our next step at the Cooperrider Center is to continue helping the working groups that were launched, like a rocket booster, helping them reach for the stratosphere in their aims. We are working on follow up communications, trainings, managing the collaborative technology platform that will support working groups, and creating opportunities for participants to connect and collaborate with each other in the days ahead so that this work continues.

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