My experience working in dozens of different types of formal and informal learning environments has led me to come to believe that education is all about relationships. Now, I don’t want to underestimate the myriad complexities and depth of the learning process, and I understand that the value of the academic experience shouldn’t be distilled or boiled down in the name of easy consumption. However, the teachers who impacted me were those who I had a relationship with, positive or otherwise. Of all the people whose names I have forgotten or the classes I took that I couldn’t repeat what they were about, I am among the masses who feel that the experience of relationship is at the core of all learning.
The center of every single student’s experience in schools is their relationship to learning as embodied by their relationships to their peers and the adults in their lives. This should be the emphasis of all school reform today. Meaningful student involvement positions the relationship of young people to adults as the central learning experience of all people throughout schools, including students themselves and adults throughout the education system. That should be the purpose and power of schools today, and nothing less.