The great Fred Rogers once said, “Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors.” In this time when opinions are as divided as the Grand Canyon and the ways to meet people where they are seem next to impossible, we at Brightworks – the school that says “Yes!” – have chosen to spend the 2017/2018 school year focusing on the ways in which we are connected. We will seek to listen, to understand, to acknowledge, to show compassion to ourselves and to our neighbors, both close to home and far away. How are we connected to one another here at Brightworks? How do the actions of one person affect all, and how do the actions of a group affect an individual? How are we connected to our communities outside of school? In what way are our communities interconnected? Through the lens of Connections, we look at three very familiar parts of our lives: Coin, Cloth, and City, to learn about, reflect upon, and strengthen our connections.
After much thought and deliberation, we decided to dive deep into Coin in the first six weeks. Not only is Coin a true key-hole topic– an everyday object that can perhaps be overlooked in its simplicity– but it also offers an instant way to bridge gaps between societies and people. The Coin represents the exchange of goods in a tangible way and will provide a gateway from the work we did in the 2016/2017 year with the Movement of Things. Coin has a dark side, too, as the basis of economic disparity, which has led to social ills throughout history. With an eye on Connections, we will seek to explore value as the basis of this arc– valuing our own contributions to the community as a “personal currency,” the value of contribution, and the value that others bring to the table.
In the winter, we will take on the topic of Cloth. Humans have been covering themselves in layers since the very beginning, and the ways that we dress are choices about our needs, our values, our sense of self, and how we wish to show who we are to those around us. Connections abound in the literal weaving of threads together to make the things we wear, the blankets we cover ourselves in, the tapestries and rugs that provide warmth and identity to our spaces. Through thread, we display our identities in flags and patterns and clothes, and find true common ground in Cloth.
With City – the very first arc in Brightworks history – we find ourselves with a unique opportunity in the springtime to get out of the building and exploring the world outside these four walls. As always, we seek to connect school to the world, and much like the By Sea arc with its narratives of adventure and discovery, the topic of City provides avenues to venture far and wide as the students learn how cities work, why they were created in the first place, how to become better citizens of their city. We will embark on an arc of listening, understanding, connecting and discovering how, through our own actions and care, offer ourselves into the city most lovingly.