(This post is the second in the Project Wayfinder series I’m writing for myself and the design consultancy Form & Faculty, where I serve as Learning Director)
Project Wayfinder‘s Summer Institute for Teachers at Brown University has thrown me for a loop and shifted my perspective on professional development in several ways. After twenty-five years in education, I don’t say those words lightly. I’ve sat through too many workshops and classes where all it seemed I was supposed to do was pack my toolbox with another method, where deeper philosophical discussions of “why” this really mattered to learners were never addressed. So when in my second day of Project Wayfinder it became clear that the design team behind the project were not letting up on the “why?” pedal, I realized I was into something entirely different here. Every aspect of the project was detailed not only in terms of what we were doing but more important, in terms of why we were doing it and where it fit into the narrative of the curriculum.
That last point is crucial. Project Wayfinder’s curriculum is geared towards helping students design meaningful lives. The key to that end is the realization that our lives are stories driven by the conflicts inherent in purposeful quests. What Project Wayfinder essentially accomplishes is something sorely missing in modern schooling: the curriculum teaches students to design their lives with purpose and with the realization that there is more to education–and life–than achieving the highest GPA and attending the best college.
Thus, what has turned me upside down about Project Wayfinder is that they are open and honest about the fact that they are intentionally designing a curriculum to disrupt the status quo. Not only are they open and honest about it, but they also have the research to back up their endeavors, the backing and branding of Stanford University, and the verve of youth to push them past obstacles and naysayers.
I’ll be blunt. This is one of the most intentionally optimistic and “real” pieces of curriculum I’ve seen in 25 years of teaching. Nor have I ever seen one as ruthlessly honest about what really matters in education: relationships, and human connection.
I came to Project Wayfinder to see how many of the disparate parts and pieces of pedagogy I’d practiced over my quarter-century in the classroom had been synthesized and applied in a curriculum I’d only ever read about. Two days in and I’m realizing something else: Wayfinder’s insistence on honoring and helping students craft meaningful stories allies them with the work we do at Form & Faculty. Like Form & Faculty, and all educators who recognize that we are–ever and always– “human beings in the becoming,” Wayfinder is facilitating the most important work in the world: helping other humans design and redesign their lives.
Form & Faculty has dedicated ourselves to this work since our inception. We help our clients discover the most important stories they want to tell, and we help you craft those stories in ways that resonate most strongly with you and your end-users. We are tireless in our pursuit of designing purposeful, intentional solutions that honor your needs as well as the stories you are helping your learners write.