To create a space where we can explore the origins and evolutions of education through the humanities; and to inspire participation and creative thinking around schooling. We seek to legitimize (and expand) all ways of knowing.
How We Will Do It
The Winter School is a *community center where people can gather to think about (and exchange ideas about) the origins and evolutions of our school system. Through exhibitions and curriculum, we introduce educational concepts such as pedagogy, curriculum and the dynamic nature of knowledge. We engage people through active participation and by thoughtfully sharing perspectives from both the past and the present.
We do not offer solutions as much as we tell stories and ask questions. What is the goal of schooling? Can it be neutral? Who can produce knowledge? And who is expected to absorb it? What ways of knowing are worthy? What is intelligence? We hope to provide (and inspire) more questions than answers while creating an atmosphere of play, inclusion and curiosity.
*Physical & virtual. The physical Winter School is a historic one room schoolhouse that sits on a patch of remnant Kansas prairie. We also host a robust virtual community where people interact with our arts-based curriculum.
The Problem to Solve
Although schooling is the most pervasive social institution in our lives we know very little about it. At the Winter School we explore what part our schools play in tensions such as
democracy // authoritarianism
freedom // oppression
divisions // unity
hierarchy // equality
opportunity // boundaries
shame // pride
expression // silencing
creativity //conformity & consumption
acceptance // rejection
mystery // control
The Change We Seek
Although school is a pervasive socializing institution in our both our personal and social lives, the education system suffers from a lack of stakeholder involvement. This is, perhaps, caused by a lack clarity about its goals, lack of philosophical debates and its historical residues of marginalization. Because of its influence on our lives, schooling has the opportunity to be an incredibly flexible and gratifying service if it engaged with greater transparency and reciprocity with stakeholders, which is all of us.
At the Winter School our inclusive and interactive dynamic can help build a community that is curious about how educational issues influence society and us as individuals; a community who can discuss educational issues, and eventually, to grow a community who participates in decision-making so schooling can maximize its contributions to democracy and full human potential.
Why It Matters
Schooling has a tremendous effect on how we situate ourselves in the world. At its best, it can expand freedoms by giving us access to different perspectives and by revealing our unique intelligences. At its worst, it can control us with rigidity and confine us with grand narratives.
How we conceptualize education has repercussions beyond the classroom. Learning (or growth) is our perpetual nature. Our health as individuals, a community and as a species depends on how we respond to this essence of constant change. At the Winter School this means constantly learning about ourselves through the joy of curiosity, inquiry and listening. It requires openness in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity; and an empathetic acceptance to those who appear different than us. This commitment to our nature of perpetual growth can help increase not only our freedoms but our feelings of self-worth, vitality, interconnection and peace.