by Ron Skene
Back in the early 80’s I wrote a promotional piece for Educo starting with this line.
On the other side of every emotional block is a great freedom….
The freedom to be YourSelf.
Well here I am decades later still learning this lesson as I step into the enormous shoes left by Stephaine Gobin. There are lots of voices in my head telling me that I should just kick back and enjoy the golden years; go travel, ski, sail, build that boat, play pickle ball, ..relax! Well it seems that my life has always been driven by purpose and contribution more than fitting into some socially acceptable, age related category. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign inspired me so here I am challenged to walk in Steph’s shoes, let alone run or dance in them.
As way of introduction I was the director of Educo through the 80’s and 90’s during a time when we planted the seeds for a lot of the ‘soft skills’ or social, emotional, & spiritual content of the courses you see on the calendar now. For my wife Angela & I this was one of the richest and most rewarding times of our lives. We got to spend our summers exploring spectacular rivers, mountains and lakes, and we still cherish extended ‘un-plug’ times in wilderness settings. But the memories that still enliven us to this day are the relationships we created over those years. Relationships based on stepping outside our emotional comfort zones, facing our blocks and discovering and celebrating the freedom to be ourselves. That discovery never ends, nor does it become routine. For me the zest of life is not settling down to a comfortable life, but constantly growing into the discovery of mySelf. Modern neuroscience confirms that happiness is moving forward with this constant exploration and discovery. So here I am moving forward and exploring what is next for Educo.
The world and the challenges young people face today are a lot different than the world they faced in the 80’s & 90’s when I was at Educo. For example on January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention- look what has happened in 10 short years- Teenagers are now Screenagers and the need for programs like Eudco are even more essential than ever.
There are two concurrent movements in education , one is the need for Nature Based Programs and the second is for Social / Emotional Learning (SEL). The core of the Educo curriculum is the successful melding of these two modes.
For the last 5 yrs I have been working on a Health Canada project focusing on SEL skills as a way to develop self-awareness, resiliency and responsible decision-making in youth. These are very ‘teachable’ skills being introduced into schools around the globe. (www.casel.org) I am keen to bring much of what is being developed in this realm to Educo, and also share with educators the obvious experience and expertise that Educo has pioneered for almost 50 yrs. now.
I look forward to discover just how Educo will evolve blending the rich history of the past 40+ years with this new science and transformations in education.