Round out our Thursday visits to these three organizations with a Friday dedicated to orbiting around the Nueva School’s triple threat of i-Labs, and we received a front seat to education’s most interesting furnishings and technology features.
What constellates Hillbrook, the d.school, MKThink, and Nueva among the many, many stars along I-280 are their commitments to modes of thought that shape their learning ecosystems, ecosystems that are poised to evolve exponentially and infinitely.
We can take Hillbrook’s shopping list and their how-to guide. What’s more challenging, and what I-280 does so well, is maintaining thoughts on higher aspirations with each incremental shift and assuring each development arrives with contrails that ask everyone to interrogate how that development might impact the next step, even if that next step has yet to be imagined.
The d.school advocates and educates towards mindsets and practices that enable organizations and individuals to navigate their evolutions with the intellectual elegance that is on display in ecosystems like Hillbrook’s. Stanford empowers professional and personal transformation, launching those that connect with their mode of design thinking well into the future.
MKThink is increasingly involved in constructing conceptual frameworks for identifying problems within problems and quantifying the impact of solutions in order to ignite continual iteration.
Nueva showcases standing evidence of a school very experienced in such evolutions, and their decision to expand into educating high schoolers displays their evolving savvy in thinking towards these next steps.
This year’s lineup of speakers and workshops at the Innovative Learning Conference also presented such maturity. Almost every presentation we attended focused on the process of evolution. Here is how we aligned a community around a set of values. Here are the many levers we have at our fingertips to drive us towards fulfilling those values. Here is how we measure our effectiveness. Here is how our measurements motivated pivots along the way. Here is the ecosystem we created. Take it in. We’re set to evolve.
But don’t copy us or our direction—it’s truly about the messy work of developing the ecosystem that will sustain your community’s values, not ours.
All in all, It’s easy to get wrapped up in the aggressive futurism embedded throughout I-280. Credos abound:
At its face, we might easily be turned off by such aggression that harkens back to F.T. Marinetti and Company:
“Do you, then, wish to waste all your best powers in this eternal and futile worship of the past, from which you emerge fatally exhausted, shrunken, beaten down?”
We know the environment is also competitive and cutthroat, and extremely problematic are issues of race and class, which also makes the Bay Area a central node for both social innovation and social unrest to the extent of outright riot (ex 1., ex. 2.).
We can also point towards other stars outside of the valley, from the transformative Mount Vernon and Shattuck St. Mary’s to the upstart Iowa BIG, Watershed, Big Picture Learning, Nuvu Studio, the latter allowed the luxury of developing an ecosystem from scratch.
But it’s the thoughtfulness, warmth, and calculated elegance with which organizations dedicated to learning employ empathy driven design thinking and lean methodology to engage in the messy process of transforming ecosystems along I-280 that makes a visit there so thrilling, as the area offers such a concentration of schools and school partners prepared shape the continued brilliance of the Bay Area for years to come.
Thanks to community members at the Hillbrook School for the warm welcome, Durell Coleman of DCDesign for an engaging tour of the d.school, Signo Uddenberg for exposure to MKThink and its work, and everyone who worked so hard to put together the Innovative Learning Conference at Nueva. And thanks to Annie Wright for dedicating the time and resources to make this experience happen.