November 30, 2018

Mini Musings - What We Live and Breathe

by Paul Chung, RIPL Coordinator

“What we live and breathe, we should say. What we say, we should live and breathe.” - Jim Brewer, Head of School

RIPL (an acronym for Research, Innovation, Play, & Learning) is how we “do” school at McGillis. It is our in our DNA. It is the water in which we swim. RIPL is the system that we use to support our vision of the portrait of a McGillis student, faculty, staff, family, and community.

To discover the elements of RIPL, look no further than the faculty and staff — they are evidence. They embody the spirit and essence of being researchers, innovators, players, and learners. RIPL happens in every part of the building, every day, with everyone. Recent examples of RIPL: students creating a water app for conservation, faculty researching K-8 mathematics, faculty leading professional development opportunities, McGillis hosting EdCamp Utah, 6th graders welcoming civil rights leader Pastor Davis, and Lower School students collaborating with the Utah Repertory Dance students tying movement to their unit studies.

As in every system, there is a desire to improve and evolve. RIPL is ready for the next steps as an identity for The McGillis School. We aim to create a shared language through which students, faculty, and families can discuss academic growth, as well as to differentiate ourselves and embrace our unique culture and community of learners.

How might we best enhance learning while accepting the inevitable risks and challenges? I like what Dr. Russell L. Ackoff, systems thinker and organizational theorist, said about leading creatively: “It is much better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right.” I also get a kick out of Dr. Ackoff’s view about education: “Teaching is a major obstruction to learning. Schools are upside down. Students should be teaching, and teachers at all levels should learn no matter how much they resist doing so.”

Embracing our learning, this is how RIPL fits in the School’s system and ethos:

RIPL How It All Fits 2   RIPL How It All Fits 2

As we move forward with our Strategic Plan, improvement is expected as a whole, not just in its separate pieces. The graphs above show an organic system with infinite connections between the School’s mission, values, RIPL, and teaching and learning. Faculty and staff are currently in the process of creating a document that will clarify the essence of a researcher, an innovator, a player, and a learner. This “We Believe” document will be a vital tool. A tool that will help strengthen how we ‘do’ school. We can measure our progress by what we believe, promote our values by what we believe, and attract relationships by what we believe. And in this way we will continue to live, breathe, and say who we are.