SESSION TITLE: No More Teachers' Dirty Looks
Convenor: Steve Motenko, Center for Partnership Studies

Steve proposed two axiomatic principles for education:
Learning is natural and fulfilling
Education is life
He suggested that modern education has drifted far from these principles, and that partnership education offers the opportunity to return to them. Steve suggested that in most cultures in the history of the world, education has been an organic process, evolving naturally from the child's involvement in the activities of parents and community. Our culture, on the other hand, separates and compartmentalizes education, away from the mainstream of cultural life.

Participants then did an exercise in which they reflected on and then shared a single positive experience from their school years (K-12), and the impact it had on them. A discussion ensued after which the following words were brainstormed to describe common threads of these experiences:

Fun, playful


Individual worth



Valuing/being seen

Principles of partnership education were then discussed, including the differences in educational approach between a partnership model and a dominator model:

Partnership Model Supports: Dominator Model Supports:
Teacher and student knowledge Teacher is the sole source of experience information and knowledge

Learning and teaching are integrated Learning and teaching are artificially and multi-disciplinary fragmented and compartmentalized

Gender balance in curriculum, Male-centered curriculum; male-leadership and decision-making controlled leadership and decision-making

Multi-cultural reality of human One culture's worldview is the measure experience is valued and tapped by which others are analyzed and as sources of learning evaluated

Social and physical sciences Social and physical sciences emphasize our interconnectedness emphasize the conquest of people with other people and with nature and of nature

Mutual responsibility, empathy and Relations based on control, caring are highlighted and modeled manipulation and one-upmanship are highlighted and modeled

The three cornerstones of partnership education were then discussed:

I. Partnership process (how we teach):
Cooperative learning
Facilitating rather than controlling
Diverse learning styles honored
Learning is a reciprocal process
Each child treated with empathy and caring
Individual needs considered and addressed

II. Partnership content (what we teach):
Gender equity
Environmental responsibility
Interconnectedness of all people
Conflict resolution through win/win approaches
Self-regulation and life-planning
Partnership-dominator continuum as an analytical lens
Creating a language of partnership

III. Partnership structure (where and under what conditions we teach):
Shared decision-making
Collaboration (among staff and between staff and students)
Shared power
Resource allocation to maximize support for learning
Safe and inviting space
Accessible space

Finally, participants shared their visions of what a school or school system would look like if it adopted partnership principles. What's yours? And what will you do to make it so? And whom will you enroll to help you in realizing this vision?