California Certification Program for Associate Compassionate Systems Practitioners
Cycle 1: October 2021 - March 2022
Cycle 2: April - September 2022
Facilitated by Peter Senge & Mette Boell
Cycle 1 starts October 26, 2021 and ends March 11, 2022
Cycle 2 starts April 26, 2022 and ends September 16, 2022
Blended course including two face-to-face workshops
We are reaching out in the midst of all the turbulence of reopening, to invite you to consider taking on the challenges ahead with a Compassionate Systems focus, in collaboration with Center for Systems Awareness and the growing community of practitioners in California and beyond. We understand very well that you do not need “yet another thing” added to what for many of you are already full plates. Therefore, we are proposing an approach that will support you in the work you will need to do anyway, yet to add and keep a Compassionate Systems change focus, at the heart of your work.
As you know, structure shapes behavior—which essentially means that systems produce the outcomes, they are designed to produce. We see this extraordinary moment in history as an invitation to redesign these systems, so that they will begin to produce equitable outcomes for all children and families, to naturally enhance collaboration across the hierarchies of the system of education, to foster well-being and human flourishing for all, independently of race, gender, socio-economic status, religion and intellectual capacities. For this aspiration to become realized for the children in California over time, the adults in the system of education will need support, nourishment, approaches for cultivating well-being, practices to stay calm in the face of overwhelm and adversity and—we believe–a profound experience of compassion and interconnectedness. Against the backdrop of this year of unprecedented disruption, the State of California will spend an additional $6.4 billion to restart the education system. Yet, for many of us, going back is not a compelling vision.
We hope we can go forward, to stay true to putting relational before transactional, to invite people into conversation about meaning and purpose in life, to humanize our ways of being and the culture we are part of, to dismantle the structures of oppression and white supremacy. We see how the injustice of racial, ethnic and wealth disparities that have long challenged the educational system are exacerbated by the disproportional burdens inflicted by the pandemic. What has been revealed is anything but new, but it has newly opened minds and hearts of many and it is this that makes it an opportune moment to bring to Compassionate Systems an integrative approach to site development.
By “site” we mean all the elements in a student’s day. All the potential influences of the education system writ large: pre-school activities, class-room activities, after-school programs, district-managed transportation to and from school, summer school programs etc. Our goal is to create the conditions to help each site develop a coherent approach to all facets of “school,” as equitable and healthy social environments where all students feel seen and respected and have the opportunity to grow, thrive, flourish and learn. Now more than ever, the intricate relationships between well-being and academic performance need to become a primary focus.
So many of us—adults and children alike —have suffered tremendously from the stress and trauma of the pandemic. Research demonstrates that stress and trauma impede learning and thriving. We must support healing and growth for all children in the years to come if we are to mitigate the damage already done to this COVID generation.
But the focus cannot be on students only. Studies also show the effects of stress contagion on classroom teachers, stress that also spills over into teaching spaces outside classrooms, for example among providers of expanded learning programs. If educators are stressed, so are their students. Their cortisol levels rise significantly, a marker of contagion or secondary stress. Elevated cortisol levels over extended longer periods of time sharply diminish the ability of humans to learn new things. The function of these sites can be to shape “generative social fields” that create nurturing and safe learning and living spaces for students and adults alike. With the reopening of schools will come tremendous pressure to “make up for lost classroom hours.” The danger is that, with the best of intentions, this pressure could undermine a commitment to well-being and channel short-term funding increases toward instructional efforts alone. This would be to miss an historic opportunity. The education system has never been structured to cultivate well-being, an absence of focus that has limited its pedagogical effectiveness for all students and led to well-documented and tragic damage to at-risk learners. Today, when so much more is known about the science of learning and of practices that can connect in-school and out-of-school approaches, we stand at a fork in the road. California is positioned to demonstrate for those inclined to return to normal and fall back on old habits that we have the practical know-how to take post-pandemic education in exciting new directions.