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Solutionary educators meet in Detroit

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs

By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Nearly a hundred educators participated in the North Dakota Study Group (NDSG) gathering in Detroit over the President’s weekend from Feb. 14-17. They included new teachers, veteran teachers, university professors, community activists, undergraduates, deans, foundations program officers and principals.

The gathering was housed, held meetings and shared meals at the Riverwalk Hotel on East Jefferson.

Begun with about 30 participants in 1972 by Vito Perrone, who was then dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Dakota, the NDSG has for more than 40 years been bringing together concerned educators from many parts of the U.S. to discuss and explore democratic possibilities in the U.S. and world education. In the process it has become a kind of informed conscience of U.S. education, constantly reminding the mainstream of more democratic alternatives and practices for education.

Over the years, the network of friendships and professional connections has become strong for those who attend regularly.

Until recently, the NDSG met in a retreat north of Chicago or on university campuses. However in 2012, a half dozen educators from Detroit, including Julia Putnam, Kim Sherobbi, Shea Howell and I attended the gathering and gave participants a sense of the alternatives we have actually been creating in our city. Also giving a workshop that year was Geoffrey Smith, co-author with David Sobel, of the must-read “Place and Community-based Education in Schools,” Routledge 2010.

As a result, the NDSG Planning Committee moved the 2013 and 2014 gatherings to Detroit.

Participants in this year’s gathering ranged from world famous Deborah Meier, the 82-year-old founder of the small schools movement, to first-year teachers in their early 20s. Many went home with Solutionary T-shirts.

Forty years ago, when our country was still concerned with the production of goods, the factory was considered the site and workers were considered the force for social change.

But now that the very existence of life on our planet is jeopardized by continuing economic growth, schools and teachers play a critical role in educating young people with a sense of social and planetary responsibility

That’s why I’m delighted so many NDSG participants went home with Solutionary T-shirts.

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