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Participatory School Design for Participatory Democracy

Session 3
Michael McCabe, Sean Anderson — Michael, Director of School Design C | L | D, Principal St. James School Madison, WI, Doctoral student Creighton University; Sean, Director of Teacher Professional Practice C | L | D, Tech Ed teacher Edgerton Middle School, Edgerton WI

Through a process of decision-making by Formal Consensus, Michael and Sean will discuss with Educon colleagues how to design learning spaces together with the students. Student engagement in learning and citizen engagement in democracy are both at a moment of a paradigm shift in America, and they are inexorably linked together. We are developing a design-process curriculum which guides students and facilitators to envision and create new public schools from the ground up, using a deliberative consensus method. Because schools serve to reproduce social structures, we believe that radically democratizing school through reiterative participatory design will have long-lasting impacts on both learning in schools and democracy in communities broadly. Participatory design places the user - in this case the student - as the designer. Our practice is built around a participatory design curriculum, which has been through several iterations but still needs testing, evaluation and feedback. At Educon2018, we would love the opportunity to convene a workshop to do a limited-scale mock-up of our School Design process, treating participants as a “temporarily autonomous community,” and design a school as if participants would themselves attend that school immediately. This would allow us to simultaneously share our design concepts with participants, and allow us to refine our process based on observations and evaluations.If you are in the audience, you will walk away with a process for creating design elements or design essentials "with" students.

Conversational Practice

Michael and Sean will jump right into the conversation of school design and frame the conversation that participants are students who are "in" a school they are going to design. In Wisconsin, $96,000,000 of federal money is entering the state for 80 new schools over the next five years. This is not a hypothetical or theoretical conversation - but a practical hands-on workshop that will yield actionable value. The group size will dictate the actual activity. An ideal design cohort ranges from 12-30. A group larger than 30 will yield two different design cohorts in which Michael and Sean will facilitate design teams. Both Michael and Sean have experience guiding educators and thought leaders in a conference setting, and the conversation will follow a 15/30/15/15/15 format in which: 0-15 minutes intro's, context, and directions 16-45 minutes - small group design 46-60 minutes - share out to seek consensus 61-75 minutes - deep dive and next actions (in this phase, individuals are allowed to "break off" or groups can intermingle to fully unpack the number one priority item of interest for the new school; participants map out next actions necessary to implement the highest priority) 76-90 minutes - creating the school and outlining Formal Consensus. The entire 90-minutes are put onto a Google Doc or other creative commons space so participants can come back and continue the design work.

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