January 30, 2011
“Here is an idea for solving the education crisis in America. What if all the kids currently failing in school pretended to be good learners? What if all the adults – teachers, principals, administrators, parents – played along and pretended that the kids were school achievers, heading for college? What if this national “ensemble” pretended this was the case day after day, classroom after classroom, school district after school district?”
So begins “Let’s Pretend,” a special report on “Solving the Education Crisis is America” written by Lenora Fulani and Fred Newman, co-founders of the All Stars Project (which released the report) and long-time friends, colleagues and mentors of mine. The three of us have written thousands of words (and spoken millions more) on play, performance, pretence, creative imitation and their critical role in learning and development for people of all ages, but especially for those whom schools have failed/who failed school. All of our words grow out of the complicated interplay of carrying out on-the-ground performance-based development work and dialoguing with scholars, practitioners and policy makers. In “Let’s Pretend,” Fulani and Newman say it as they see it in a mere six pages. In the time it takes to make a cup of coffee you can read it and see if you see it their way or if they’ve helped you see in a new way.