The Critical Skills model and the Antioch University New England (AUNE) philosophy have made their way 10,000 miles, from Keene to Bali, Indonesia, thanks to an alumnus.
Glenn Chickering, MEd ’13, earned his degree from the Working Teachers program, with a concentration in Educating for Sustainability (EFS), while he was a teacher at the Green School in Bali. He applied what he was learning to his work, impressing the school principal, Andy Slavin, with his enthusiasm.
“I have had numerous friends return to school to get their master’s degrees in education and they always complain about how useless the coursework and workshops are,” Andy said. “But here was Glenn, week after week for two years, getting more and more excited about education and teaching. How could I not be interested in what he was doing?”
What came up time and again was that, in 2011, while earning his MEd at AUNE, Glenn had taken the Critical Skills Institute, a five-day professional development course offered by the Antioch Center for School Renewal. “I did some reading and knew instantly that it would be a great fit at Green School,” Glenn said. “It had some of the key pieces of our pedagogy–cooperative learning, inquiry, challenge, communication, creativity. Perfect fit! I liked that the model seemed to provide a great framework for the work we do at the Green School and, in the end, it really has been a great asset.”
Andy was also impressed that Glenn was able to use the Critical Skills information in his classroom immediately, in stark contrast to other graduate programs.
So Andy invited Paul Bocko, adjunct faculty in AUNE’s Department of Education and Glenn’s EFS advisor, to come to Bali to deliver the Critical Skills Institute to Green School faculty. Paul taught for two days last fall, and then finished up the Institute in February. Paul also gave a one-day workshop on EFS classes he teaches—Connecting Community and Curriculum, and Real World Sustainability.
The Green School teachers, from pre-school to high school, embraced the model immediately, Andy said. “The results have been magnificent, and the structure of the model has helped to snap some key ingredients into place.”
Glenn was a founding member of the Green School’s teaching staff in 2008, and is the only international teacher who has been with the school since its start. He started the physical education, athletic, and after-school programs in the school’s first few years. He now teaches in its middle school, grades 6-8.
“Knowing that this progressive and sustainability-focused type of education was where I wanted to stay, I began the EFS program at Antioch, which has been invaluable in helping us to infuse the principles of sustainability throughout the middle school and to some extent the rest of Green School. I have also been a big part of the team leading the charge to connect our students and school to the community around us.”
The Critical Skills model has been taught by Master Teachers and AUNE faculty in schools around the country for more than twenty years. Through students, alumni, and faculty presentations, Critical Skills has been shared to several other international sites—India, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Beirut and, most recently, the Netherlands.
“I think the thing I like best about the way we’ve moved internationally is that it’s all been organic,” said Laura Thomas, director of the Antioch Center for School Renewal. “It’s found its way to schools and communities through like-minded individuals who share our passion for learning.”