Written by Etienne Collignon and Carol Gorelick


We were 90 participants, sharing in french and english.We started with the poem by Khalil Gibran:



On Children

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

So he loves also the bow that is stable.


Peter Senge introduced the session

The purpose of education is TIMELESS:

How people grow and develop.Children are the future of society.Most societies have a system of education. For most of history it has been an apprenticeship system with stories, myths and history.How society meets challenges and grows as a society has to change as the nature of societal challenges change.

The #1 US societal challenge re: education is EQUITY: Equality of opportunity for different children.We’ve had a twenty-five year system (a reinforcing loop) of bad education for poor people. Education should focus on the challenges society faces.

He offered 4 ideas as « we » [SoL Communities]  build a network.Systems thinking as a foundation for how we think. Human beings are systems thinkers.Sustainability. Lessons for how to live on the planet.Schools as learning communities. Invisible leaders are crucial for change of students themselves.


Raymond Francois Le Bris, former Director of Ecole Nationale d »Administration in France gave his testimony 

Education no-longer has a monopoly on knowledge. The most important elements for schools are teaching methods and teachers:

  • Distinguish school systems and structures that are mandatory from optional schooling;
  • Associate professionals in their fields with learning activities in schools;
  • Hear from learners how alternative systems of schools and professional development are chosen; France is far behind other countries;

In France, of 5 million students, less than 600,000 are in learning/practice (experiential) schools

  • Make experiential learning a must;
  • Associate professionals in fields with the education process;
  • Graduates should come back and give their experience to keep the system alive.
Few questions to the participants

  • What is the crucial need for change in education for the XXIst century?

A participant asked for clarification of the question. Peter modified the question to say:

  • What is the crucial need [for change] in education for the XXIst century [what is our reflections at the beginning of the XXIst century?].
  • What is your experience of change in education we are talking about?
  • Why now? How does it help us face the big challenges of today and tomorrow?
  • What is already emerging that could be further dissemination and enhanced and helped?
After small group deep conversations, we shared several personal stories

  • A women told her story of being dyslexic and going from being seen as handicapped (weird) to being seen as a genius (a threat). Her journey has taught her  to use intuition to be present, to create for herself a photo reading technique that uncovered her unexplored capabilities, and to understand individual learning styles. She asked: What purpose does school serve? She believes that school does not have to be difficult for children.
  • Josette Bruffaerts-Thomas told her Haitian experience with schools post earthquake. She committed herself toreconstructing rural schools as centers of sharing. She set up electronic screens and interactive applications to help  children  learn. Parents became more involved in the school. Wealthy schools were inspired to adopt the method and tools she pioneered; the concept is spreading. Teachers give feed back and share; students are on the school steering committee providing feedback; corporate executives are visiting schools and providing feedback.
  • Team Academy/Kaos Pilots create spaces for learning (education) by practice and team work using the theories and principles of complexity, uncertainty and paradox. What would it take to amplify the small initiatives in processes around the world?
  • Creating labs for recreating the education system is beginning in Columbia and expanding beyond Columbia.
  • Support the implementation of the SILK ROAD project: How can Chinese students be developed into team collaborators? The goal is to move the 300 year focus on individual exams to a renewed nation with collaborative spirit. Will Zhang requested is the following: Communities in the world be willing to receive groups of Chinese kids to help open up long held mental models and hierarchical expectations of competition.
Sharing such stories of change gave us useful tools for global change in education

  • Sharing experiences is a gift through generative dialogue.
  • A learning journey to another country is a learning experience.
  • Experience in talking about feelings (based on Gestalt) is a way to reflect on what one learned: Tools; Deep Learning tools to support reflection and the local and systems levels; Generative dialogue as a way for children to learn.
  • Children are NOT prepared for adult life. They are only prepared for exams. Children need to learn to belong to the adult world. They should be introduced to the workplace. Teachers and other adults resist moving to a school to work model.
  • Recognize the power of learning, specifically personal mastery. Leadership school, the military etc. have integrated personal mastery through deep learning and the value of learning to produce results. A program for kids personal development resulting in a strong motivation to live and learn is needed.
  • Adult trainers experience should be applied to schools. Changes are happening in SoL to help “us” change. The French system is not changing. The teachers and the System Ministry don’t want to deviate from “the system”. A rigid system reproduces itself.  Note that children don’t evaluate teachers, only adults evaluate the children.
  • Graduate education in France has recently become competitive. New methods are being introduced: Changing pedagogy (less expert to student, more participation) by professors; Postal service-do jobs differently, involve workers in deciding how; Teachers-accept student ideas
  • Worship a God of curiosity.
  • Keep children and staff safe.
  • Bring wisdom of the world to learning and co-learning.
  • Change light (focus?) from learners to teachers. Engage teachers.
  • Ensure that education is universally understood as a human right (path to empowerment).
  • Change the mental model of educating at the school building to educating where people live.
  • Create spaces and forums out of the education system for people to be educated NOT only by educators (teachers).
As a conclusion, let's say with the participants
The need for change is driven by our awareness that we can’t continue living “like this”. It is not a sustainable world. Let’s make change through education by creating creative/critical thinkers with moral and social responsibility.
Facilitators and guests
Etienne Collignon, President TeamFactory, former chairman SOL France.

Carol Gorelick, Executive Director ABC Connects, research member and former co-chair of the Executive Committee of the SoL Council of Trustees

Peter Senge, Founder of SOL

Raymond-François Le Bris,  Ancien directeur de l’Ecole National d’Administration à Paris.

Special thanks to Nancy Bragard for her translation.