The Next Wave in Education

The day is calm. Your feet are in the sand. Waves gently lap onto the shore, rising to your ankles and gliding across the tops of your feet. Silently, the wave retreats, tugging gently on your toes as it returns to its undulating dance. 

Although you stood still, you are surprised to find your feet have sunk millimeters deeper into the sand. With each passing wave, your feet become more encased–cool to the touch, comforting, and at the same time, morbidly fascinating as you watch yourself received into the belly of the Earth. 

In 2013 the tide of education was turning. For a decade, the wave of No Child Left Behind had slowly eroded the foundation of our schools. With no end in sight, many educators began to revolt, forming new collectives with new ideas and new approaches to learning that abandoned the old, sinking model. Project-based learning; curriculum infused with creativity and innovation, and a global charge to individualize the profession.

“It was amidst this Edvolution that NuMinds was formed. Utilizing a love for curriculum creation and enrichment learning…”

Following the first step of any bohemian revolutionary, we created a manifesto. Replace absinthe with coffee and paint brushes with dry erase boards, and you have the stage set for constructing our new model for learning. We borrowed from the old while synthesizing our beliefs and experiences. What we created, we named Bamboo Curriculum. It served as our initial compass, and it still guides every learning experience we create today. The formula, the approach, and the structure was so unique, we even applied for and received a U.S. patent.

Over the next six years, we were met and embraced by so many unseen hands–like-minded individuals hungry to change the world, who believed in us as we believed in them. This web of support allowed us to train thousands of teachers in our methods; write hundreds of courses and deliver amazing programs all over the world. In true devil-may-care fashion, we took from our profits and created programs for those in need. It is one thing to practice your own methods and believe in their validity; it’s another to watch refugees, children in foster care, Syrian orphans, impoverished inner-city and rural youth, English learners and countless others respond to our passion-based approach to integrated learning. 

In 2019, we piloted a new business model, a way to deliver programs across the globe–which cost communities very little but delivered a huge impact. The key was building the capacity of local teachers. With training, support, and healthy autonomy, open-minded teachers edvolved into Inspirators–igniting their own spark and delivering our programs with fun and fidelity. 

The pilot took attention and time, and making a full operational pivot for 2020 was a huge gamble. We knew that this approach would only work through economy of scale (i.e.–make a little money in a lot of places, and you can keep the lights on and the absinthe flowing).

As we all now know, 2020 was not a year to make large gambles.

Shipwreck Boat Ship - Free photo on Pixabay
“All the while, from our tumbling vantage point, the monolith of education could be seen in the distance.”

As we all now know, 2020 was not a year to make large gambles. 

An unexpected wave pummeled the shoreline, impacting everyone. We spun like flotsam, treading to keep our head above water. Tumbling. Free resources. Furloughs. Tumbling. Virtual programs. Lay offs. Tumbling. Skeleton crew. Half time. Part time. All the while, from our tumbling vantage point, the monolith of education could be seen in the distance. The edifice of public education wasn’t just sinking into the sand, Covid had cracked its very structure!  

2021. The wave has not yet receded, the devastation is not yet over. However, instead of the battering of an oncoming surge, we are instead finding our footing on the sand–a beach strewn with litter, wrack, and broken shells. Covered in grit, those who have withstood the wave are taking stock of where they are, who they are, and the best next step.       

“I wish to God is didn’t take a global pandemic and so much suffering to finally awaken this level of clarity. Unfortunately, it did…”

Teachers are covered in grit, and it is now clear to everyone that they are the most important component in education. Policy makers failed, awash in political tumult. Organizations closed their doors before crumbling. The top heavy structure of education was exposed by the storm for its indecisiveness and poor decision making. The only thing that truly matters are teachers–teachers who strive to reach their students, imparting knowledge, wisdom, and love.  

I wish to God that it didn’t take a global pandemic and so much suffering to finally awaken this level of clarity. Unfortunately it did. The flight of fancy that launched Numinds in 2013–a vision to upturn education by empowering teachers–proved to be more prophetic than we ever anticipated. 

Now that we are all here and now that we are all covered in grit, please listen. We must empower teachers. They need support and resources, but most importantly, they need the autonomy to do what is in their professional capacity to do–teach children. We cannot train and certify teachers only to have them squashed by oversight, fleeing in search of other opportunities. Instead, we must all allow teachers to design and enact learning experiences that speak to each student’s individual zone of genius. 

In 2021, NuMinds will continue to hoist the flag of real inspired learning. We’ll use this time of rebuilding to offer training and resources–including turnkey curriculum and methods from our Bamboo Curriculum that enable teachers to create their own learning experiences. We do not claim that our way is the only way; every student is different, and there is nothing under the sun that will work every time with every kid. But by focusing on empowering the individual teacher, instead of pouring into policies and oversight, we now know that it is the best step towards rebuilding a sustainable model of education. So that when the next wave in education surfaces, this new foundation will stand above the sinking sand. 

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