As autumn is fully upon us here in the northeastern US, fields are full of seed ‘pods’ ready for harvest. Thinking back to another world, I recall the energy and excitement of the peanut harvest in southern Senegal which I witnessed year by year... how the peanuts were picked by hand, gathered into bundles and then thrashed to drop their pods. As one woman led, enthusiastically blowing on a whistle, the workers would sing and dance to the rhythm of beating the plants to release their precious pods. The peanuts were stored in the shelled pods - to later eat, sell, or save for next year’s planting.
With this in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about another type of ‘pod’, an educational pod, which the pandemic and interrupted in-class teaching have brought into being in many places.
I could wax eloquent on this model for hours, but to start the conversation, I’d like to draw a visual image between plant pods and this model of learning pods.
Plant pods begin their existence as part of an integrated cycle from seed to table. The seeds draw in all they need during their growth cycle (sunshine, nutrients, water, air) and eventually the pod is formed to encapsulate all that good stuff! The humble pod is thus valued cross-culturally, world-wide for the role it plays, in agricultural communities perhaps especially.
Transferring this over to education, I am excited to see how some families and communities are latching on to this idea of forming ‘learning pods’, bringing together all the necessary components for a strategically integrated program. I see this potential for not just any given course or semester during a crisis (which is an important contingency plan) - but for a sustainable learning dynamic which can supplement or even perhaps in some instances replace existing programs. I also see it as multi-generational with parents and grandparents, older and younger siblings each playing their role toward a bountiful harvest of lifelong learning!
One thing I will hasten to add is that there is an argument that pods are only possible for the privileged - those who can afford hiring tutors, or taking time off work. I totally disagree! Even as real pods are the valued harvest of so many economically challenged people groups in agricultural communities globally, I suggest there are pod possibilities anywhere that education is happening (see the field workers story in the link below!).
Changing your educational model is not easy, and yes, there are challenges galore...but it’s possible! Media coverage offers examples, with pros and cons (see several links below), and perhaps some of us have explored the possibility of forming an educational pod, or are actually participating in one...
Can you envisage, or are you experiencing, a pod in your world?
Share about it here or with a friend...and Happy Harvesting!
Until next time!
Global SKILLs LINKs
A compelling story of covid’s impact on farmworkers’ kids education in the US - with one hopeful model for what could become fieldworker’s educational pods
Some examples from more traditional American educational contexts https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-learning-pods-in-person-school/
Alternative in pod models for underserved communities
An innovative start-up focusing on education at all levels, with definite pod potential - in an unlikely place! https://www.civicsuds.org/
Check out my Global SKILLs website for other innovative, ‘non-traditional’ things happening in education https://www.globalskillspartners.com/
2020 - Celebrating Global SKIlls 10th Anniversary Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community