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Stephen Hurley: To prepare our children for a new Age of Wonder, schools must become the public squares of our communities.

Stephen Hurley: To prepare our children for a new Age of Wonder, schools must become the public squares of our communities.

Transcript included...

If there is any chance of making possible a new Age of Wonder in our lifetime, we need informed and engaged citizens as a precondition. Veteran educator Stephen Hurley argues that our schools must be transformed into the public squares of our communities. Listen in to see who he thinks needs to lead the charge.

Hello, I’m Bob Westrope.

I believe these things to be true.

  1. We live in an Age of Abundance, where, for the first time we have the means to eradicate human suffering, want and need.

  2. Our world is in unprecedented danger. Too many issues that must be dealt with simultaneously, from climate change to an all-out assault on democracy itself.

  3. We have years – not decades - to prevail. To make possible a new Age of Wonder.

  4. The root problem is a systemic, global leadership insufficiency.

  5. We can’t rely alone on current systems and structures to address this insufficiency. It’s time for big ideas.

  6. It’s on us to fix it - the BoomXers born from 1946-1980. We have the experience, networks, power, money, time and most importantly the motivation. It’s our children’s world. It’s our legacy.

Join me as I explore the big ideas needed to inspire our generation to action – ideas offered by leading thinkers, doers and activists united by the understanding that we all share one very small and very fragile planet.

Before we start, the BOOM! series of podcasts will be brought to you by several sponsors. Since BOOM! is intended to promote actionable, measurable and meaningful impact, I wanted to make a statement in the acceptance of our first sponsor. That's why I invited @Storyminers to be the first to support us.

Looking at the ten years we have to fix the world, each of us will undoubtedly face situations where success will depend on painting a super-clear picture of the future. The possibilities each of us sees and the means to get there, have to make it – clearly - into the hearts and minds of our friends, fellow citizens, employees, partners, and customers. If we can't make the future clear and compelling, how can we expect others to join us to achieve it? 

Practically every leader faces the challenge of reshaping their organizations to meet whatever tomorrow brings. They must experiment while leading at the same time. It's not easy.

Storyminers understands that strategy is best expressed as the story of who you are and where you want to be next. The easier that story is to understand, the more people can see themselves in it. That means faster and longer-lasting adoption. 

Storyminers are masters at this, with over 1,000 assignments over 20 years in 24 countries as evidence. To learn more about Storyminers see the links at the bottom of this podcast.

 Let's get started.

Exactly two hundred years ago James Madison wrote;

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy: or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.[1]

This quote has been historically conflated to mean that he was espousing easy access to government information – accordingly he was widely quoted as the Freedom of Information Act was conceived, debated and passed in the United States Congress. But scholars agree that he was in fact referring to the 3 R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic - and more generally, the need for a citizenry that had the capacity for critical thinking, to “throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public safety.”[2] To Madison, the source of this power was the well supported public school - for our purposes today, let's say any K-12 school.

We don’t lack for examples of such "crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public safety". Indeed, the election of Donald Trump, coming just five months after the Brexit vote in the UK can be seen as the demarcation line at which we could say definitively that the light of the public mind had dimmed catastrophically, and was in fact in danger of being extinguished altogether. Que Q-Anon.

There is a clear relationship between education on voting behaviour, income and health. Looking at US data on Wikipedia - data resonant with recent post-Brexit UK studies - my back of the envelope read shows that the average red state voter lives in a state where 29% or more have at least a bachelors degree, vs 37% in blue states - a 25% delta. Not surprisingly, on average, the same red state voter earns 25% less than his blue state relative, will die two years sooner, and is 8 times more likely to believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

This is NOT to suggest that the non-college educated voter make poor decisions - there are far too many environmental variables to do so. But it does illustrate the need for quality education. For those who aspire to a new Age of Wonder, then re-inventing the process of learning, that is of equitably preparing new generations of thoughtful citizens with the basic competencies of critical thinking, is of existential importance. That process necessarily begins at the beginning - that is kindergarten (or earlier) and runs through to grade twelve.

Helping us "throw light" on the consequent challenge and the opportunity of transforming learning and education is Stephen Hurley, a lifelong educator and thought provocateur.

Stephen taught for 30 years in the public school system as teacher and then teacher instructor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and today is Architect and Chief Catalyst at voicEd Radio, a 24/7 Internet-based radio station designed to broaden and deepen the conversations on learning. Not inconsequentially, Stephen is also the producer of this podcast series.

"Bob Westrope: Okay, Stephen. So what is your big idea?

Stephen Hurley: Well, my big idea relates to something I'm very familiar with, and that is schools and specifically public schools. So my big idea is that:

“public schools must be re-imagined as vibrant and accessible places for community dialogue and community development.”

Bob Westrope: Well, that sounds impressive. Where did this big idea come from?

Stephen Hurley: I said I'm very familiar with schools. I've worked in schools for nearly 40 years in and around the public education system, across Canada. Of course, like you, I was a student for the first part of my life and so don't think I've ever left school. I have been a keen observer not only of the profession, the teaching profession, but also what happens in schools and the relationships and the dynamic and the politics of it. In my later years, I become kind of a policy geek, in terms of policy around education.

In that time I have come to understand that we are undervaluing if not undermining the role that schools can and should be playing in the life of the community. If you think schools are embedded in communities, a pain point for me is the frustration that schools are becoming isolated and isolating. I think that this idea comes from that sense of frustration and also that sense of hope.

Bob Westrope: Why do you think, or how do you think it is a big idea?

Stephen Hurley: I think it's a big small idea. It's big in the sense that it flies in the face of the way we have come to think about schools in recent decades. I think it forces us to think beyond, and anything that forces us to think beyond our current context, I would consider it to be a big, if not more than, a small idea.

It's a grounded idea though. It's not a big pie-in-the-sky, wouldn't-it-be-nice hopeful idea. I think it's something that many people can see in their own community. So it's a big idea that is rooted.

Bob Westrope: What problem is it addressing - what's the thing that this fixes?

Stephen Hurley: I think it touches on a few problems, but I think the biggest problem is the sense of isolation that is developing in our communities. I don't know about you, but I grew up in a fairly new suburban area back in the 1960s.

I remember neighborhoods being places where you knew each other, and you had a number of parents on the street and you knew you couldn't get away with much, but also there was a sense of social interaction among neighbors. And there was a sense of community. Many people were involved in church communities and at school communities, sometimes sports associations.

I think that the human activity and the relationships that I see happening in the neighborhoods that I'm involved with, are less than that. Often, people don't even know who is next door to them. People go across town with their kids for play dates. There's a sense that my life as a community member is outside of this particular area - that at the same time schools are constituted by and large geographically.

So you have a neighborhood school that's there to serve the neighborhood, but I think it's a different neighborhood now and I think that's a problem. People may say, well, that's sort of Pollyannaish, but I think we've come to think about the world in large strokes from a global perspective. I think a lot of the problems we see and a lot of the challenges that we're trying to tackle can also be found in our immediate neighborhood so that I have come to realize that local communities and neighborhoods - and the connection between neighborhoods - are really a basic and essential unit of human growth and development.

I think our local communities are a microcosm of what we see in larger scale, and that means that the problems that we want to solve out there can also be found in here. So you may be asking, what do schools have to do with this?

"I think schools are one of the last bastions in many communities have that sense of public space and public good."

...and I think that creates a really interesting and important opportunity for people to think about gathering in those spaces to talk about some of the issues, some of the problems, some of the challenges that we face as a community. And so I think schools as an architectural space, as a physical space, but also as a conceptual space, can help us gather people around the problems that we want to solve.

Bob Westrope: When you were invited to this podcast, we shared the tenets on which this podcast is based, they being broadly humanist and broadly globalist.

There's an assumption here that the public square that you talk about implicitly shares those values. What if they don't? What if the community leaning is towards intolerance and addressing grievances real and imagined, What happens then? How does that shape or frame that central position of the school?

Stephen Hurley: From a big picture perspective I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said, these are broadly humanist values and globalist, and I think in saying that we're also saying that they're shared by the very fact of humanity, the very fact that we are human.

There is more than a tendency, there is an affinity towards human connection and human gathering, but the realist part of me says yet that even in the community that I live in, I have seen evidence of communities gathering around shared values, which may not be the values that I ascribed to.

When you think of it in our communities now, communities and societies that are focused mainly on economic value and economic efficiency and proficiency, we've lost a lot of the public spaces. We don't have one. And when you think of public space though, you need to think about the commitment to the process of dialogue, the process of conversation, the process of connecting.

I'm not just saying, "let's throw people together in the gymnasium at a school and let's have at it." I think there's an opportunity to re-engage people with the art of dialogue, the art of conversation, the art of gathering and the art of listening, and I think that it's precisely because these are not perfect spaces that we need this big idea.

Bob Westrope: If we do that we position schools as exemplars of critical thinking, of which there's a paucity right now for sure.

Stephen Hurley: And it's something that most 21st century curriculum will ascribe to, it's one of the six 'C's' or seven 'C's that people ascribe to. We say we want critical thinking, - whether we do or not really is another question - but I think yes. The fact is that students and our schools already have a demographic, a population of thinkers. They're younger than you and I, but it's a perfect place to use as kind of ground zero for this type of thinking

Bob Westrope: What would your peers think? It strikes me that they may well be part of the problem - or certainly the challenge - in any kind of cultural adjustment.

Stephen Hurley: There are a couple of ways that I could answer that. First of all, I think my peers would think, "well, there goes Hurley with another one of his hair-brained ideas".

I think many of us have become accustomed to the status quo. Many of us have become so immersed in our own day to day problems and challenges and drives, that this may seem like a hairbrained idea, but I think we've come to accept that. When you think of schools, it's nothing to say to a parent who wants to come into the school - "well, where's your police record check"? We have security cameras at the doors. We have signs now in COVID times that you are not to enter the school. I have not been in my local school, since March of 2019. So I think that people are looking for this type of thing, a new way of gathering around things that are important to them.

I think you'd have to market it a little bit, in terms of getting people interested in coming out, because people aren't used to coming out to school for something other than parent teacher interviews, or maybe a permit to rent the gym for a basketball game. So this is a new way of coming out, And I think that will take some work.

Bob Westrope: I talk in the preamble to these podcasts and in my first foundational podcast especially, about the new Age of Wonder that we're all aspiring towards - one based on the tenets that we discussed (see below). If we were to execute on this vision that you described, how would that help us in realizing this new Age of Wonder?

Stephen Hurley: Well, I love the word 'wonder' and I think in my own life and in the life of my kids, when we talk about wonder, we talk about looking 'out' and looking 'outside', looking 'out' into the night sky and looking at nature in that wonder-filled stage.

I think this contributes to that age of wonder, I think we need to develop a greater sense of curiosity and wonder for each other, for, for human beings, not something 'outside' ourselves, but something 'inside' ourselves. I think when we look at indigenous ways of knowing and a lot of learning about that - we find that sense of wonder in relationship. And I think this idea of public space - wherever it is - is based on raising that sense of relationship to a new level of importance. And that's wonderful.

Bob Westrope: It most certainly is. I can see the dots connecting here, so let's connect them to our listeners - the folks that we see as the core listener or reader of these podcasts, BoomXer's. People like you and I, where in most cases our children are in university, certainly out of public school, and as in my case, with grandchildren. How is this relevant to BoomX'er's?

Stephen Hurley: I don't believe there were glory days for the public square, as much as history will want us to believe that. I do think that for BoomXer's, the idea of reconnecting with people in vibrant ways will resonate because many of them probably remember a group or a community they were involved with where they were engaged in either direct activism or were thinking about the world in a different way and bringing that sense of hope to it.

So I think there's an emotional connection to the idea - certainly school houses. I lived in an old renovated school house in a community here in Ontario, and I would have older people come by the school house on a regular basis saying, "I went to school here, and here's what we did. We had our school plays here and we had community meetings here and we had trustee meetings and quilting bees and the whole bit". That's not the public square that I'm talking about, but I think BoomXer's have some connection with schools and the idea that I'm proposing.

But I also think that they have the time to get involved with some projects and some leadership initiatives. There's a lot of expertise in the community from the BoomXer's on the sort of conversations that we need to have. There's an opportunity to connect again with schools, and to develop that sense of connectedness in the community that we all care for one another and we can all communicate with one another.

Bob Westrope: My observation is that typically grandparents are more or less hands off with regard to the issues of education of their grandchildren. It's odd, because as you point out, we not only have the time, but we have the experience, and certainly in my case - the reflection - on that 15 year period in our kids' lives, a the time when we're so caught up in our jobs and paying the rent. It's a completely different kind of reflection that one has now, and a completely different set of experiences, a body of experience that one has to offer.

It's an interesting question, interesting challenge - how we bring that to bear. And speaking of challenges, this certainly does qualify as a big idea. Small big ideas are just fine. It's something though that certainly I would argue needs to be scaled globally, but we can talk perhaps about that in the next part of the discussion. So the challenge then is how do we fix this and who fixes it? And so - what is your challenge?

Stephen Hurley: Well, this is a school level, proposal, so I'm going to challenge all school leaders, principals and vice-principals to begin to see themselves differently - a mindset shift not only as leaders of a school building, but as community leaders. Not the only community leaders, but as community leaders. And I think in adopting that mindset and the practices that come from that, we're going to see some shifts.

If, for example, in August, September, instead of a principal being holed up in the school with staff, why not take that staff that will be working with those kids throughout the year on a walk around the neighborhood - on a walk around the community - to take a look at who's there, what's there. It's not my idea - it's been done before - but I think it's such a powerful idea as a way to begin to see outside of that school building. So I'm going to challenge all school leaders to begin to think of themselves as community leaders.

"I'm going to challenge all school leaders to begin to think of themselves as a community leader."

Bob Westrope: If principals and vice-principals were to do that, 5 to 10 years out, what would success look like?

Stephen Hurley: Well, I think one of the signs of success would be a full parking lot, pretty well all day and into the weekends at the school. I think you would begin to notice some things happen in the community. You would begin to notice the grounds of the community looking different because parents and community members would be welcomed to take care of the school in a different way. You would find a multi-directional flow of human capital in ideas in and out of the school.

Right now, kids are dropped off by their parents and there isn't really a lot of connection - it's this major handoff at the beginning and end of every school day. Not only during the school day, you're going to find the community involved in a different way. I think you'll find that the community is being accessed by the school as a resource, as opposed to the school just telling parents and community members what they're doing or what they need to be doing at home for example.

We have a lot of diversity in many of our communities across this country, and I know around the world, and just because a community member doesn't speak the language as well as someone that was born in that community, it doesn't mean they don't know anything or have things to say about the world and about the way the world is. I think we have to challenge those assumptions, so that would be another look-for. I think another very positive and grounded look-for would be the way that communication travels - many schools are, playing with, and trying to commit to, multilingual communication, for example.

How do the lines of communication get formed in this type of vision? And I think there would be a sense of intentional events being designed to welcome the community, to draw the community in around important questions, and not just questions of life in that community, but questions of life in general. I mean Christopher Phillips, in the states, developed a concept called the Socrates Cafe. Where you opened up public spaces, his idea was libraries and bookstores and cafes, but I added to that pubs - just gathering people around some of those big questions of humanity, what it means to be alive in this world.

And so the school becomes known as a place to expect, and look out for that type of activity, so it's not just "we could rent your gym for our teams", but this is actually a place of learning for the whole community.

Bob Westrope: So much more organically involved, dynamic kind of communications, as you say, two way with the elements, the institutions of, of the local society.

Stephen Hurley: Yes. From a design, a biological, a metaphor perspective, the walls of the school house will become semi-permeable.

Bob Westrope: Good. You are an intractable optimist I think, incapable of saying anything negative, but I'm really going to challenge you, to tap into your inner pessimist - what does failure look like in your estimation?

Stephen Hurley: I have a clear sense of what that looks like. I'll put my pessimistic hat on. I think we will continue to go down the road that the neo-liberal ideology wants us to go down - make schools market driven, market oriented, marketable. That way they become isolated, they become more irrelevant to the community, they become more closed off from the community. And it's happening already - COVID has pushed that sense. Failure would look like schools as commodities.

Bob Westrope: As you say that I'm thinking that one track is to prepare employees and the other preparing and nurturing citizens.

Stephen Hurley: We can do both and I think we need to do both, but I think there's a preferred path - there's a whole conversation about what happens in schools - but my big idea has to do with the way we see schools as part of the life of the community.

Bob Westrope: Now, the Principal-as-CEO, it strikes me, is the apex of most teachers' careers. Isn't it more about promoting teachers that have the mindset and the ambition to be community leaders, as opposed to career tracks being oriented towards the administrator?

Stephen Hurley: I think that if we have the leadership at the administration level, my experience is that that mindset filters down to the teaching profession, to the classroom, to what happens in the classroom.

I'm going to push back a little on the apex metaphor. I took the Principals courses and I was totally disillusioned by them, and the amount of liability that is on the shoulders of Principals these days. It used to be - especially if you were a male back in the sixties - and you didn't think that you wanted to be a principal, especially at elementary school, then someone would have questioned that.

But I think that's changed. I wouldn't want us to get to the point where we bring in administrators from outside of the teaching profession, but we're long past the point where every teacher's goal and dream is to be a school administrator.

Bob Westrope: And there's no doubt either that there's a very large pool of teachers that would aspire to be community leaders who are also very good administrators.

Stephen Hurley: To that point, right now across the province of Ontario, the Principal pools, the administration pools that leaders are drawn from, are pretty well empty. There's not many people going into those pools now. But if we were to re-engage people's imagination as educators and say, "Hey, your job is not to cover the liability piece, your job is to get out there and, and engage the community. And you're going to be leading a building that is known for this," then I think you'd get a different sort of person. I might even go back and put on the administrative hat!

Bob Westrope: That sounds like a great job description. That would be something that I would find engaging as well. So who are the actors we're focused on - the vice-principals and the principals, you talk about - who are the other actors that need to be engaged?

Stephen Hurley: Everybody, everybody. Well, you've got your students already. I mean, they are your captive audience that you're going to build this vision around.

Certainly the community organizations need to buy into it. They need to be willing to work with school leaders to make this happen. I think there are a lot of community organizations that rent space in schools, but don't really see themselves as part of the schools.

You have your educators, your teachers, other school staff, where I think this could capture their imagination. I think your superintendents or district level government actors have been talking about this for years - they have been talking about schools as community hubs for years, but the policy hasn't really been there. It hasn't been a strong "you must do this or this is the way things will be" type of thing.

Bob Westrope: There's an interesting question. That policy - who are the, the principal proponents of it historically?

Stephen Hurley: I think schools themselves probably have been. It isn't until recently, I guess in the the sixties, seventies - the education reforms - anytime you have an education reform movement, you also have a community reform movement attached to that saying, schools could be different places. But I think that maybe the more important policy question is - what has stood in the way of this happening? Certainly the liability piece, the facilities piece, the revenue piece around community use of schools - we're at a point now in some of our jurisdictions where they're talking about teachers having to pay for parking because of revenue deficits. It's hard to imagine this in that sort context.

By and large, we need to get out of the way and let some of this happen before we start talking about making it a policy, because as soon as you make it policy, then you have to police it. But I think this is an idea whose time has come and we just need to get out of the way of people who want to give it a try, enable them, give them some funding to make it happen and see where it goes.

Bob Westrope: I'm going to come back to the challenge of the teachers, the teaching ecosystem, teaching unions in particular that, from the outside looking in, can get in the way of these kinds of initiatives. Talk a bit more about how the culture of teaching needs to change to accommodate this.

Stephen Hurley: That's a really good question, and I think what I've seen over the course of the pandemic is that teacher unions have become very amenable to new ideas. Health and wellness is on the minds of everybody. I don't think that, uh, you're going to find the teachers, the colors of teachers' unions changing overnight, the stripes, if you will, but I'm finding and talking to people who are working with unions a lot more openness to new ideas.

Bob Westrope: One of the biggest inhibitors to any initiative is the culture of those who are expected to execute it. That's true in policing. It's true in healthcare. As a parent and observer, I would say the same is true of teaching - the thing that blocks a lot of great initiatives are teachers. That's not to say that there are an incredible number of great teachers, but it also seems the case that there are legacy elements within the discipline that restrict or stop initiatives like yours.

Stephen Hurley: One of the things that I have noticed happening over the past couple of decades, and certainly since I began teaching in the mid eighties, early eighties, is that more and more responsibility and more expectations are being placed on schools and on the teaching profession. It seems that all the social problems in a community are placed on the school. So I think it's become part of the mindset of teachers that they have to do everything, and that everything rests on their shoulders, and that comes out in different ways.

There's some research being done on the importance of tutoring to fill some of the gaps in this post COVID time. And as a teacher, if my kids, my students parents came in and said, "I have them enrolled in a tutoring program", I would take offense to that because that's my job to teach them.

And so I think one of the things that has to change is that teachers have to be given the freedom to say, "it's our job". And I don't want to go into that old saw 'it takes a village', but it's kind of that opening up - as teachers - to the fact that, although they've been told and given the messages that everything is their job, not everything is.

If we can loosen those ties of who owns what, and who has responsibility over what, then the whole looking-out-to-the-community-as-a-resource, not only for what goes on during the school day, but for how that building comes to life after school is out.

Bob Westrope: Offering that opportunity - it's not only a responsibility - but offering that opportunity to teachers, I would imagine makes it a vastly more interesting and constructively challenging career - certainly a relevant one. I mean, we all have the experience of a teacher that changed our life - it strikes me that an initiative as you've suggested is one where, if that's the role of the school, it provides the opportunity for more teachers to be pivotal in the development of a child. It also strikes me that the distinction between developing employees and citizens by engaging students in the community through that K through 12 process, would absolutely make them much more engaged and thoughtful and contributing citizens.

Stephen Hurley: To be clear, this big idea is not about schools in that K to 12 narrative. It's about schools as a public space for the community as well. So maybe an expanding horizons metaphor would work.

People may leave this conversation saying, "is he really saying that community members should be in teaching kids?" No, I'm saying that we have an opportunity, we have a public space, we have public buildings in all of our communities and they could be truly hubs that are much more actively involved in the conversations that make a community, a community.

Bob Westrope: that is an excellent way to end our conversation.

So thank you very much, Stephen.

Stephen Hurley: This has been a pleasure. Thanks Bob."

Here are some thoughts from my conversation with Stephen today.

His idea that schools must be be transformed as public squares of our communities is inspired. I'm not sure that I remember a time when they could be described that way, but there is no doubt that - largely for security and liability reasons - they have become islands that are quite detached from community life. Certainly, that must be reversed. To see them re-imagined as vibrant, diverse, fully integrated elements of a public commons, and thus shaping citizens - and not just workers - is to be applauded.

It remains problematic as to what values will inform the curriculum of the new school-as-public-square, as the desperate battle for the control of school-boards in the United States demonstrates. The humanist, globalist values that are assumed as the base of Stephens vision for the reinvented school, are too often today losing out to the calculated and co-ordinated attack of those who not only reject those values, but reject with them empirical and objective fact.

Nor am I quite as generous as Stephen is in his assessment with respect to the role of teachers in leading the needed cultural transformation. I'm leery of self-policing professions, be they teachers, police, doctors or lawyers. Though they are clearly in the best position to police their ranks - weeding out those that do not meet the standards of their profession - the track record of any of these groups, notably including their unions, is - to be generous - disappointing.

However, I am also utterly convinced that a small minority of any profession - if not a majority - would be broadly supportive of a world defined by something like our Tenets, so the challenge is to connect, empower and mobilize that 10, 20 or even 50%+ of members to transform their profession - in this case the art and practice of learning.

I was heartened by Stephen's observation that the 'thinkers' best positioned to lead the charge to instill critical thinking in our learning processes are the clients of the system - the children the system exists to serve. I wonder too about the power of connecting these youthful thinkers with the most powerful generation - so far - in human history, we BoomXer's.

Now to Stephen's challenge, that is that school leadership must be seen as community leaders first, and administrators second.

Article 8 of our Tenets states that all persons must "have access to such learning as is necessary to realize one’s needs and desires, and to be an informed and engaged citizen." Stephen asserts that to facilitate the development of effective and engaged citizens, we must do that in the incubator of citizenship - the school at the heart of community. In turn, it is for the Principal and Vice Principal to lead in the needed transformation by aspiring to be community leaders, and not just CEO's. Perhaps the same should be said of corporate CEO's as well.

Stephen has delivered the nucleus of a powerful vision and challenge. Quite easily one could imagine it's execution to be specificmeasurableattainablerelevant and certainly timely. After all, there are only so many Principals, Vice Principals and aspirants to those positions that need to be incubated and supported in their transformation.

It begs the question though, who will execute this big idea, and hold to account those who have been challenged? Who will experiment to determine the optimal execution, and then scale those learnings around the world? It's pretty apparent now that aiming to retard the spread of ignorance locally or regionally is no more effective than trying to solve climate change in one place alone.

So here's what I'd like you to do - for now.

First, click the 'follow' button wherever and however you are accessing this podcast – see the links at the bottom of all print postings. Please note that at this time, we are NOT asking for your email address, but it is vital that we build a follower base as quickly as we can with your help. 

Second, please share this podcast with as many of your friends, family, peers and colleagues as you can - and ask them to follow us.

Third, please engage in the community discussions on your preferred platform – here on LinkedIn or at These discussions will help elevate and refine the big ideas and the challenges that have been issued. 

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, imagine a world where our schools function as Stephen has suggested, preparing new generations to assume the mantle of citizenship and then of leadership in an Age of Wonder - where learning leadership conduct themselves in a manner consistent with something like our tenets. And imagine how you and your peers might leverage your years of experience, your time, your connections in a specific, measurable, accountable, relevant effort to reach – and influence - the Principals and Vice Principals (and implicitly, the school administrators) challenged by Stephen by 2035. To in some small, yet vital way, make the world better as only you can.

Let me be frank. My purpose with this podcast series is to see if we can mobilize a well-funded global civic effort that leverages the learnings of Leaders Expedition. We're calling this new initiative LeadersX. If we want to redefine the role of the public school – and countless equally daunting initiatives like it simultaneously, I believe nothing less will or can work.

Sometime soon, I hope we will move from discussion and imagination to action - to connecting, empowering and mobilizing our uniquely positioned and powerful BoomXer community to transform the world we have made. Until then please reflect, engage and spread the world.

We broke it. Let’s fix it.

[1] Letter from James Madison to W.T. Barry (August 4, 1822), in The Writings of James Madison (Gaillard Hunt ed.).

[2]Letter from James Madison to George Thomson (June 30, 1825) (on file with The James Madison Papers at The Library of Congress).

BOOM! We broke it, let's fix it.
Boom! We Broke It, Let's Fix It.
We challenge BoomXer's to deliver on the Big Ideas needed to save the world by 2035. This is for people of all ages who are excited by the future and fearful for the present.