Widgets Magazine

Re-EnvisionED: catalyzing a conversation about empowered education

Re-EnvisionED, an organization developed by a Stanford Ph.D. student, is catalyzing the conversation on empowering schooling across the United States. Led by Erin Raab ’17, it collects interviews from parents, students and teachers across the country to compare views on what education is, what makes education beneficial and how to fix our current school systems.

Raab bought the website domain last July and collected a team of masters, graduate and undergraduate students last autumn. The team’s goal is to empower the individual’s experience with education.

“How do you set up a system that allows for an individually empowering educational experience?” Raab asked. “We already know how to do this, we’re not doing it.”

Raab spent over a year at an international development organization for education in Latin America and five years in South Africa developing a library resource center for 8,000 children. She focused on literacy and languages as a framework and moved on to study social-emotional development, character development and the sociology of education, and how all of these linked into one system. In the course of her activities, she found that the current educational system needed to change to accommodate the individual and that schools had only been addressing symptoms, not systemic problems.

Raab mapped out a new system that focuses on the experience of schooling rather than instrumental values that focus on outcomes.

She coined the term “human possibility” as a positive vision for the fullest potential for human development through education. To find the range of human possibility, Raab and her team are interviewing those with connections to the education system, asking what people consider to be a good life.

“If we don’t agree on what a good life is, then our discussions about schooling are starting on different premises,” Raab said.

The Re-EnvisionED team continues to ask questions on what the role of schooling is, what they think of the current system and if interviewees feel that others generally agree with their views. So far, they have conducted over 100 interviews and hope to collect 10,000 within the next three years.

Megan Conners ’16, a part of the team’s media platform, said that she hopes Re-EnvisionED will spread across the U.S. She started by interviewing family and friends and hopes to inspire catalysts across the nation.

“I would like people to know it in the way people know Humans of New York; just if it could be that well known, I think that it would be great,” Conners said.

Re-EnvisionED staff have also recruited 20 non-Stanford “catalysts,” or interviewers, to collect stories and compare reactions. Ultimately, Re-EnvisionED hopes to catalyze the conversation on education, process the information gathered and realize the vision of empowered schooling.

To learn more about Re-EnvisionED or to join, visit re-envisioned.org.


Contact Gillian Brassil at gbrassil ‘at’ stanford.edu.