One might say that each of us is a tomorrow maker... by design or default.
NOTE: This is a continual work in progress but I want to share my thinking, even if rough. I invite feedback for clarity and iteration. Thank you!
"Insofar as the past is over and the future has not yet transpired, this midpoint is an open moment of possibility. Properly used, it becomes like the eye of a hurricane, a quiet place at the center of life, a free, unconditioned moment of opportunity."
Ira Progoff (At a Journal Workshop, 1975)
Tomorrow Makers is the offspring of my efforts to understand learning and teaching. What motivates, inspires and opens opportunities for life-long learning? My ideas have continued to mature throughout my 50 years of active exploration.
My inspiration came from teaching young children. None of my college years in education prepared me for what I learned in my first years of teaching. (1961 - 1971) In fact, I claim, if I had followed what her courses had offered, I would have become a burned out failed teacher within a few short years. Instead, I felt compelled to listend and respond to my students' questions and desires about learning and life. My young students (seven and eight year old) were incredible problem solvers given open opportunities. They were quite capable of learning with each other and solving complex problems. They were courageous in their questions and followthrough. After a few years of teaching public school, I studies Montessori and taught both preschool and primary Montessori classes. Still, it seemed to me, students were underperforming what they were really capable of doing. A bigger question forming though is what about teachers. Are we still capable of learning as the young mind does? Have we lost our creativity?
I founded the Learning Exchange with Mary Watkins in 1972 to help teachers and community members design and co-create courses and ways of learning and teaching that could become part of a school's curriculum. Everything we offered was heavily "learn by doing" and was novel yet exciting to adults as well as kids. Courses such as Economics in Action; The Unseen City; Art in Education; Cardboard carpentry and a number of other courses. Sure enough teachers, business leaders, scientists, artists, educations from pre-school through college, parents were ready to learn with and from each other. The greater Kansas City communities bonded together to create unique opportunities, not only for students and teachers but for the entire community. Twenty two school districts; four private schools; three universities; and thousands of citizens were engaged. The beauty of this is our naiveness. We ignored the naysayers, those who told us our ideas would never work. The Exchange lived for 25 years, well beyond my seven year stint. Today, there are a number of off springs, each taking a different part.
In 1980 I with my husband and partner, Matt Taylor, founded MG Taylor Corporation to help people learn how to solve complex problems through learning new ways of working. From our perspective in the mid 70's people were relative dormant with their creativity. Most seemed somewhat helpless to know how to make change and create better worlds. Collaboration was practically unheard of. Project based learning was an anomaly. As adults, most thought they were through learning. Now their job was to go to college, get a job, get married, and live happily ever after. This apathy was occurring in the midst of exponential rates in the change of almost everything. Although no one could explain our process or method to others, it attracted people of all ages, from many disciplines. Our way of working set a benchmark for better ways to learn across diverse boundaries and circumstances, communicate and solve complex problems. Today the process is world wide with somewhat over 700 practitioners and thousands of organizations and communities have benefited.
Tomorrow Makers Inc, a non-profit network was founded in 2001 to take my learnings into teaching and facilitating communities to learn better more collaborative ways of working. More and more communities are asking questions regarding working with diversity, with complex problems, with learning new ways of working. Todd Johnston was my partner for a few short years as we created the foundation for Tomorrow Makers. While we have been active in our work and mentoring, we have also been aware that there is more Tomorrow Makers can do. We have a network of nearly 1000 people practiced in the MG Taylor process and we support this worldwide network.
My interest and intent with Tomorrow Makers is to create a community where those creating “tomorrow by design, not default” can come to find each other, combine ideas, co-create workshop offerings, access broad, deep bodies of knowledge and forge paths leading to a more equitable world. I want to bring my knowledge about simple rules from the classroom; community design and workshop developed with the Learning Exchange; and the process/method and deep understandings of complexity sciences which are at the core of the MG Taylor body of knowledge.
I believe, more now than ever, it is time for big dreams, for encompassing dreams large enough where many can find ways to contribute, to join with others, to step out and up to the challenges of the Anthropocene age. I'm hoping many will join with me.