I finally gave up around 10:30 last night, waiting for the email that might (or might not) come announcing finalists for the XQ super school project . I went to bed, and of course the email came 20 minutes later.
But before I share what the email said when I opened it early this morning, I should step back and explain.
There are lots of education-focused grants out there. While they aren’t all billed to the tune of 10 million dollars, some of them are quite big. Even bigger than 10 million. We have a full-time grant writer on staff constantly developing and submitting grant proposals. XQ isn’t the only game in town.
Yet the secret of the XQ is in the ambition of their design process. From the beginning, we could tell that the XQ was looking to foster a designer-centered movement. It’s not enough that they’re offering an insane amount of money. They pay attention to the design of materials, they’re creative about cultivating engagement and community building, they’ve provided tools and resources to enhance the quality of the proposals that are submitted. They don’t just say they are student-centered. They’ve modeled what it can look like, highlighting and celebrating progress along the way. As humans, we are animated by beautiful design and thoughtful interaction, and the XQ gave us a process that acknowledges both.
In short, we’ve been engaged in a year-long, project-based-learning experience that has pushed our skills as designers of learning. The experience has facilitated the building of local coalitions into a common cause, and has immersed us in the puzzle of public schooling in our country. They’ve deepened our empathy for young learners.
The XQ never took us for granted. They partnered with us, invested in us, and pushed us – and we responded. For that learning opportunity, I am genuinely grateful.
Let’s hope we can do the same for our kids.
And yes, I’m glad to report that our Círculos school proposal has moved on to the finalist stage. It was a happy bike ride in to work this morning.