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Exclusive Article by New Goddard College President About The Crisis in Higher Education Alternatives

Ed: As you’ve been reading in recent issues of this e newsletter, Hampshire College is on thin ice financially and may not even have a new incoming class next year. Antioch College closed several years ago but was reopened by its alumni but is struggling. Goddard College operates on a different model, low residency. This may be a more sustainable model than full time residency, as not just alternative colleges are having serious financial difficulties. We asked new Goddard College President and AERO member, Bernard Bull to talk about Goddard’s model and the financial crisis that Goddard College also faces. Since John Dewey helped his student, Dr. Royce Stanly Pitkin revolutionize the college in the late 1930’s, Goddard has pioneered in distance learning, ungraded education, adult degree programs and many other approaches that have eventually become mainstream. More recently Goddard is considering creating dual enrollment programs for homeschoolers and other high school students. But as he says in this exclusive story below, Goddard is also in crisis now.

In the summer of 2018, I put the finishing touches on my latest book, began plans for my next two research and writing projects, as was nearing my twelfth year at a traditional independent University in Wisconsin. My children, 11 and 14 were thriving in their homeschool community. Our family had a rich network of friends and family. I was not looking for a change. Life was steady and predictable.

Then I received an email that led to an amazing and life-changing journey. In the past, I deleted countless messages almost identical to this one, emails inviting people to apply or recommend others for college job openings around the United States. On this particular day, I was compelled to open the message because of what I read in the subject line, Goddard College Presidential Search.

For over 20 years, I’ve been dedicated to studying educational innovation, experimental and alternative models of education, and self-directed learning. While I never attended, worked for, or visited Goddard College, it played an important role as one of the most inspiring stories of a truly learner-driven higher education community that I’d come across in my decades of study. Over the years, I’ve read almost everything in print about Goddard College. I kept a copy of To Know For Real in my backpack for almost two years, reading and re-reading favorite excerpts, citing portions to anyone who would listen, and seeing this book as the seed behind many of my research and writing project. Two more copies sat on my bookshelf, right beside Democracy and Education, A Schoolmaster of the Great City, Punished by Rewards, The Underground History of American Education, Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood, and The Absorbent Mind.

There are many wonderful and inspiring progressive education colleges and universities in the United States, but there were a few distinct traits that always stood out to me about Goddard. First, its core pedagogy is largely learner-driven, which is more than being learner-centered. While many schools tend to the interests and needs of students, there is a much smaller number of schools that ask that one powerful question that changes everything. “What do you want to learn?” To this day, undergraduate and graduate learners are truly co-creators of what and how they learn each semester.

Second, Goddard was and is not a static model. This is an experimental and experimenting college that has expressed itself in many ways over its lifetime, yet holding on to core elements of progressive pedagogy. Along the way, Goddard served as the birthplace of any number of programs and models that can be found across higher education.

Third, in its most recent iteration, Goddard is low-residency. Students in undergraduate and graduate programs gather twice a year in Vermont or Washington for rich, intensive learning; collaborating with others students; working with their advisors to establish a personal study plan. Amid all of this, the College community maintains a persistent passion for exploring themes of social justice across all programs.

I opened that email job posting, gathered the requested materials and submitted my application. I knew there would be a large pool of candidates, but something compelled me to add my name to the list. To my delight, the search committee wanted to explore this possibility further, and after a dozen or more conversations, I accepted the offer to become the new President of Goddard College. Now, being a little over 90 days on the job, I can say that the community has exceeded my expectations. I’ve studied and visited hundreds of delightful and inspiring K-12 and higher education learning communities over the years, but I’ve never witnessed what I see at Goddard. What most impressed me was how Goddard’s learner-driven value appears throughout the community. I see it in the dining hall; the beautiful, moving, and inspiring learner-centered graduation ceremonies where every graduate gets a moment at the podium; the informal interactions among students and faculty; the conversations about student’s learning plans; and the delightful series of learning and social activities coordinated during a residency.

As much as I admired Goddard from afar, I’ve come to believe that I probably would have declined the offer to become President if it were not for the fact that Goddard is going through a time of difficulty. I had heard nothing from the College for quite some time after my in-person interview. I assumed that they opted for another candidate until the board chair reached out to me to explain the situation. It turns out that Goddard was notified by the New England Commission of Higher Education about concerns regarding governance and long-term financial viability. This eventually resulted in Goddard being placed on probation. These concerns were not in any way related to the magical learning that takes place here.

If Goddard were not going through such a difficult time, perhaps I could have justified staying in my long and stable life in Wisconsin. Yet, I believe too deeply in the power and importance of Goddard’s progressive education. I was compelled to join the community in striving to navigate the current challenges and working toward plans for Goddard to not only survive, but thrive well into the future. There are risks and uncertainties, however this is a critical cause and a courageous community. In a sea of higher education models shaped by efficiency, standardization, mechanization, and mass production; it is more important than ever for us to nurture and cultivate deeply human pockets of educational democracy that lean into values like learner agency, adventure, experimentation, curiosity, and creativity. I am so incredibly proud to say that I am part of such a higher education community.

The immediate situation involves no guarantees and calls for our best thinking at Goddard College. We are striving to refine and improve how we connect with and invite people to become part of the Goddard community. We recently launched an aggressive fundraising campaign called “Together for Goddard College.” We are reducing our expenses to make sure that we are being responsible stewards of the tuition that students pay to the college. In addition, as we work through the immediate situation, we have any number of exciting new projects, programs, experiments to explore; ideas coming from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other friends of the college.

As Goddard moves ahead, I am looking forward to nurturing and deepening our partnership and connection with kindred spirits in alternative education, and the AERO community is at the top of my list. I am eager to get to know many of you, exploring possibilities for partnership, and discovering how we might work together in expanding those important pockets of democracy across the education ecosystem.

Bernard Bull

President of Goddard College

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Pathfinder Community School in Durham, NC seeks Part Time Staff

Pathfinder is a self-directed learning community for members, ages 5-14 in Durham, NC.

We support self-directed learning, like many unschooling families and homeschool self-directed learning centers.

We support self-governance, akin to Agile Learning CentersSudbury schools, and democratic free schools.

At Pathfinder, members are:

  • free to choose their daily activities
  • responsible for their choices, actions, & education
  • empowered to participate in fair and transparent governance
Program Assistant: Job Description

Term: Feb 15-June 9th 2019

Hours: 8:30 am-3:30 pm, up to 14 hours weekly

Depending on enrollment, the hours of the position may expand.

Pay: $15/ hour

Qualifications and Characteristics:

  • Experience working with young children in an informal setting

  • Understand and support Pathfinder program philosophy

  • Demonstrate trust and respect for children

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills

  • Reliable and timely

  • Current NC childcare background check

  • Driver’s license

  • CPR/ First Aid training a plus

 

Roles and Responsibilities:

To Assist in implementing programs at Pathfinder Community School by:

  • Assisting in facilitating meetings with program participants

  • Upholding Member Agreements and protect member freedoms and rights

  • Supervising children and make safety judgement calls while they are engaged in self-directed activities, such as tinkering, playing music, outdoor games, and woods/ creek exploration

  • Exemplifying personal engagement in the form of sharing interests, hobbies

  • Maintaining the safety and structural integrity of buildings, grounds, and infrastructure.

  • Practicing interpersonal respect

  • Anchoring Pathfinder culture by demonstrating trust in the natural impulse of members to self-actualize.

  • Assisting members in tasks when requested to do so

  • Driving members when necessary to field trips

  • Carrying first aid kit and apply first aid when necessary

  • Doing various other tasks as needed for the continuance of Pathfinder program.

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Bay State Learning Center Seeks Part Time/Full Time Arts and Crafts Instructor

Location: Bay State Learning Center – Dedham,MA 

Open Position: Part Time/Full Time – Arts and Crafts Instructor

Dates of Employment: ASAP to June 15, 2019 Hours: 4 days a week from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Compensation: $35.00/HR – Independent Contractor

Only U.S. Citizens or those already approved to work in the U.S. should apply. We are unable to help an international candidate get a work visa for this position.

Who We Are:

BSLC was started in 2014 by George Popham with a simple thought – “The way we teach kids in many public schools just isn’t working. I think there’s a better way”. George had been teaching in public schools for many years and he could see that kids were learning to memorize, follow rules, take tests and complete homework, and though there were likely some skills that they might take with them into adulthood, the most important ones weren’t being taught. They weren’t figuring out how to learn on their own, how to think on their own, or how to manage their own time. Thus BSLC was born and we’ve been encouraging kids to take control of their learning ever since.

Our philosophy is deeply rooted in the belief that children are naturally curious & creative and that they thrive in an environment that fosters those traits, not one that thwarts their imagination. It understands that kids learn differently but surely and that no one size fits all. It puts the emphasis on learning that helps teens be prepared to lead a satisfying life, personally and professionally, in a constantly changing & evolving world rather than educating based on yesterday’s needs.

BSLC is built with a core belief that growing to be a compassionate and responsible individual is just as important as growing academically. You will see BSLC teens actively working towards being meaningful community members.

What We Need:

We are looking for a mature, energetic, creative person to run our Creative Space at our Center. The right candidate should have some experience working with middle schoolers and/or teens in an educational setting. They should also have some experience working with their hands. We have a creative space area that includes weaving, a Cricut Maker, electronics, wood working hand tools, a sewing machine, painting, glue guns and various other crafting areas.

How to Apply:

Send an email with your resume and cover letter attached to information@baystatelearning.org

Job Type: Full/Part-time

Salary: $35/HR – Independent Contractor
Bay State Learning Center
o: 781.355.6575
information@baystatelearning.org
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Global Village School Seeks Math/Science Teacher

Job Ad – HS Math/Science Teacher – for AERO

Rapidly growing international alternative school seeking part-time teachers for:

  • Math/Science
  • Social Studies/Peace & Diversity Studies
  • English
  • K-8

Candidate must have experience in their subject areas (HS) or grade level (K-8), with strong computer skills, excellent oral/written communication skills, a commitment to social justice, and a flexible schedule. Experience working with homeschoolers is ideal. 

See full job description and instructions to apply below.

Teacher Job Description

About Global Village School:  GVS is an international K-12 homeschool diploma program with a creative, flexible approach and an emphasis on peace, justice, diversity, and sustainability. Our focus is on preparing students to be wise and capable stewards of the planet and each other. We work to nurture and protect the passion and enthusiasm for creating a better world that comes so naturally to so many young people. We seek to help our students to lead authentic and meaningful lives, and strive to have them leave school feeling confident in their abilities to make an impact on the world around them.

Global Village offers a full K-12 curriculum with all the regular academics, weaving in progressive themes wherever we can. In addition, we offer customized curriculum which reflects students’ interests and learning styles, and high school courses such as International Human Rights, Planetary Stewardship, Peacemakers, Literature of Diversity, and The History of Civil Rights in the U.S.

Definition and General Description:  Working under the supervision of the Executive Director, and in cooperation with the office staff and administration, the Teacher provides support to and oversees the educational progress of assigned students.

Schedule: Flexible. Time required depends upon number of students assigned.

Reports to:  Executive Director

Status: On Call / As Needed (Fluctuating hours, up to 19 hours per week)

Duties and responsibilities: Provide teaching services for GVS students and follow the guidelines in the GVS Teacher Manual, including:

  • Consult with and support parents and students, answer questions as they arise
  • Review student work and return it in a timely manner
  • Assign grades to high school work (K-8 work only if requested by parent)  
  • Keep detailed records, including an up-to-date list of all students
  • Provide documents such as written evaluations at the end of each semester’s work, monthly student updates and billings, send welcome letters to new students, etc.
  • Communicate regularly with office staff and assigned families, including notifying the office if you have any concerns about a family

Qualifications:

  • Personal commitment to the vision of Global Village School, including commitment to social change, educational excellence and innovation, creativity, peace, justice, and diversity
  • A passion for working with young people
  • Teaching experience, preferably in an alternative education context
  • Ability to work with people from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds, generations, sexual orientations and gender identities
  • Experience working with staff and students in a team-based context
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently; trustworthy; dependable; productive
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • The ability to personalize curriculum and requirements to meet individual student interests, needs, and learning styles
  • High school diploma required. Bachelor’s Degree preferred. Teaching credential is a plus.
  • Solid knowledge of personal computing: Microsoft Word, Excel, Google Drive, creating pdfs, Email, the Internet, Skype, online chat, and social media such as Facebook is required
  • Knowledgeable about peace, social justice, active nonviolence, diversity issues, education, and their interconnectedness is a strong plus
  • Knowledgeable about homeschooling, humane education, and alternative education is a plus

Global Village School is a project of Community Partners®. Community Partners® is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce. In addition, the organization will consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring. Community Partners is an EOE /Veterans/Disabled/LGBT employer.

Please email resume and personalized cover letter to Marcie Foster at info@globalvillageschool.org.

No phone calls please.