One of the first things that pre-service teachers are asked to do in teaching school is to think about their philosophy of education. As we started to envision our ideal school, it was a good question to revisit. What we were discovering though, is that there were bits of educational philosophies that we liked, but there wasn’t one perfect fit. We hypothesized that it’s because these philosophies were created in different times, and we needed to think 21st century. We jokingly described our “Avondale School Philosophy,” referencing the location of the Starbucks where most of these conversations occurred.

Philosophies sound so lofty, and so we started thinking more about symbols. We tried on all the clichés.

A lightbulb. There’s that magical A-ha moment, but sometimes, it’s not as obvious. It’s also not organic enough. Learning is not as simple as a switch waiting to be flipped.

So maybe it’s a fire. The spark is there within the child. Okay, agreed. The teachers provide the kindling and air to help it grow, but not so quickly that it burns itself out. But again, it seems too one-directional, with the teacher providing the fuel.

A tree. Teachers plant seeds of knowledge, it grows and branches out. Nope, kids have some of that there already.

Laurels. Given as symbols of triumph or a victory. But that seems to imply that there’s a finish line to learning. Nope.

Owl. Tracing back to Athena, the owl allowing her to see the whole truth. A sign of wisdom. Not bad, aside from the fact that it’s also associated with death. How do we see truth?

Mortarboard. It’s more of a symbol of the outward status awarded to someone who has completed a level of study than the actual learning and knowledge themselves.

The apple. The perfect thing to adorn all teacher gifts, right? I always hoped that it was somehow a little scandalous, referencing Eve coaxing Adam into eating from the tree of knowledge. Wouldn’t that make teaching awesome and subversive? But somehow the image is a bit too Mary Englebreit to be that risqué.

So what are we?

Academic. Play-based. Whole child. Appreciating nature and the broader world. Modern and embracing technology. But none of these to the extreme.

We are – balance.

Wow. What a buzzkill is that. When describing it to a good friend, he used the term the Venn integration. That sounds much more interesting. Yet, too mathematical, too fixed.

We are – a movement.

We are asking you, and others, to think about why we educate kids. We ask you to think about what your future successful grown up looks like and sounds like. We ask you to question deeply whether the practices in place in schools right now are mirroring what you describe as goals. We ask you to start a conversation about what we could be, or should be, doing to bring about those goals.

We are – a mobile.

Kinetic art. We are responsive to what individual kids need right then and right now, without losing sight of the other elements. We are in motion, reacting and changing to the world around us and the group of kids in front of us. We are firmly attached to a set of values that holds us together and allows us to always find – equilibrium, balance.

We are – inspiration.

We are the gentle stirring of the air, the raising of a question, the presentation of enticing materials that sets learning in motion.

We are – The Kineo School, and we invite you to learn along with us.

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