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Moving from 'me' to 'we' with emergent learning pods

Online summer camp brings together cross-cultural groups of five to learn in the 'we-space' and become masters of everyday living.

Photo of Merritt Wuchina
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  • Teacher
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  • whoismsmerritt.com

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The Summer Camp Micro-schooling Pilot-Pod

This micro-schooling pilot will be the first tight-knit “pod” that operates from a place of mutuality (e.g. from the field of our shared human experience), trust (e.g. from our own innate intelligence and ability), and deep connection (e.g. global awareness and interbeing) with each other and all things. 

In this new experience of a ‘We-space’, we will be expressing ourselves, our hopes, dreams, and desires. We don’t have to be “right” or “perfect.” This is a place where we have space for the MAGIC, IMAGINATION, and EXPLORATION that a typical school day doesn’t allow. 


Four main elements that make our concept unique:

1. Student’s Pods: Student pods are groups of five students who stay together for an entire school year or summer school.  Parent caregivers do not participate in Student Pods.  These five-student pods are located around the world and connect with each other regularly for cross-cultural learning and engagement. The Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling learning pod framework of processes and practices is supported by the work of Integral philosopher and author Terry Patten and his book A New Republic of the Heart (https://www.terrypatten.com/nrh/) as well as the philosophical thinking of Charles Eisenstein and his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible (https://charleseisenstein.org/books/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible/).

2. Parents’ Pods:  Each five-student pod has a corresponding pod of five parent caregivers which meets independently from the Student Pods.  The parent’s pod - known as the Parent’s Heart Circle - will meet with a trained facilitator four times during summer camp or ten times over the regular school year.  More than a ‘PTA,’ it’s a safe space for mutual nourishment and engagement, deeper self-awareness, and seeing ‘Self’ through the other’s eyes. Caregivers are given space to be held, seen, and to speak about “what’s up” for them. It’s the key differentiator of this micro-schooling solution.  The methods and teachings of the Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling Parents’ pod are supported by the work of Saniel and Linda Groves-Bonder and their teachings on Waking Down in Mutuality (http://www.sanielandlinda.com/waking_down.html).

3. Character Strength and Virtues: Our curriculum is guided by creating direct experiences of the positive qualities of character and virtue. This emergent approach to learning prepares students to become masters of everyday living, motivated to learn by their own intrinsic values, rather than teacher-enforced systems of reward and punishment. Children are guided to discover a larger commitment to life and what really matters to them, moving from ‘goal-based’ to ‘whole-based’ learning. 

Like preventative medicine, this approach to learning fortifies psychological wellbeing early in life, rather than later in adulthood, when ‘fixing’ and ‘coping’ strategies don’t lead to a sense of completion or solidified learning. The Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling learning framework is supported by research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center (https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/) and the research of Christopher Peterson and Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman on the twenty-six universal character virtues common among all cultures of the world.

4. Affordability and Inclusiveness:   Our larger vision is about making this micro-schooling experience affordable and accessible to anyone who wishes to participate.  To enable this vision, an education economy for affordability and inclusiveness is needed to deliver what we all want for our children: the best education possible.  We need a currency dedicated to education whose value is not influenced by school zoning, politics, and fluctuations in world financial markets.

Our very own education-based currency called the DanaChip  .  The market is protected and the value of the token increases as more people own it. Transferring your debt-based currency to DanaChips for education purposes makes sense.  You will be able to buy DanaChips at 10% the value of your local currency, earn them, or trade or gift them to other parents in need.  The Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling education currency is supported by the development of purposeful, direct, and secure digital blockchain crypto-currencies and tokens being created around the world.  The Summer School should be paid in your local currency (e.g. USD, Euro, SGD, Bhat, etc.), while the regular 10-month Micro-school year may be paid in DanaChips or local currencies or both.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

So far, the story of humanity has been a story of separation--less for you means more for me--and that happiness can be found through greater growth, advancement and having more things in life. But now we need to move into a whole new world and way of being, one in which we develop confidence and character as the sovereign individuated ‘me’ and learn to operate with the larger Collective of humanity from a higher sense of ‘We.’ The social technologies and human potentialities being explored and refined since the 1960s have matured to the point that a sense ‘We-ness’ can be experienced, felt and most importantly, taught. A whole new world full of ‘We-Spaces’ awaits..

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling was created in 2019 by Merritt Wuchina and her partner Cullen Kowalski as part of the Merritt Wuchina and Cullen Kowalski Innovation Fund for the Waking Down of Humanity.


The groundbreaking teaching method of Ms. Merritt Micro-schooling is the result of the founder’s own search for personal liberation, enlightenment, and discovery. After several years of inner core work on herself through the practices of Waking Down in Mutuality (http://www.sanielandlinda.com/waking_down.html) and Trillium Awakening (http://trilliumawakening.org/) combined with the burgeoning collective field of “We-Space” mind-body practices emerging around the world, she discovered and developed a new way of teaching which combines tried and true methods of teaching with innovative methods that seek to prepare our children to meet the needs of the ever-complex global world they will face.

What region are you located in?

  • South-eastern Asia

Where are you located?

We are currently located in Bangkok, Thailand with roots in Washington, D.C.

3 comments

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Spam
Photo of Naylee Nagda
Team

Hi Merritt, your summer camp sounds really fun and allows kids to explore an aspect that is typically not focused in schools. I am curious about how you would take some of the physical activities built on connection and engagement remotely?

Spam
Photo of Merritt Wuchina
Team

Hi Naylee Nagda 

Thank you for that question. I think it is a great question and something many educators are working to develop at this time.

Several of our practices come from the emergent field of 'we-space' technologies, as developed by Elizabeth Debold and Thomas Steininger and their One World in Dialogue facilitation workshop (https://oneworldindialogue.com/) First, we bring attention to "the space between" each other that exists in the online space. Even if I am appearing one computer screen and the student on another, we are still in the same "physical space" of a shared reality of the planet. One simply way to bring our attention to the shared space is by simply leaning in to the camera and being closer, in proximity, to the screen. Anther way to do that, that I am just imagining right now, could be each holding a shared object with a shared intention, for example, like the pebble meditation in the first picture, and placing our attention on the felt sense that each member of the group is also holding a pebble, and that the hands are 'not separate' in the body being as human that connects us as 'one.' These practices can also be developed by the intelligence of the group, and what wants to be spoken, when discovering new ways of connecting remotely. Another example that emerged in our call with Elizabeth and Thomas, was turning off our microphones while we all sang together, and then turning the microphone back on after a minute to hear what the group sounded like. Engaging in "non-doing" or shared silence is another way to connect the group and bring them into shared presence.

Spam
Photo of Naylee Nagda
Team

Hi Merrit, thank you for clarifying! These are all such wonderful and interesting ideas!