50. Questing to Find the Golden Fleece with Argonaut Chris Balme

Chris Balme, my guest for this “quick kine bites” episode, writes: “Middle school is one of life’s great forks in the road. As the time when puberty begins and thus incredible neurological changes are taking place, middle school has an outsized impact on child development. For some students, it’s the time they begin to find their voice, their social identity, their sense of self in a bigger world. For most, unfortunately, it’s the opposite of that–the time when students lose engagement in school, forgot their authentic sense of self for the ‘false self’ of whatever passes for cool in school, and begin orienting themselves to do whatever it takes to win social status. It is the time that most Americans describe as the worst part of their education, and possibly of their lives, yet educators, psychologists and neuroscientists would agree that it is one of the most formative and important times of our childhood. What is going on with middle school? This paradox led me to co-found Millennium School, a laboratory middle school in San Francisco. Our premise was that middle school is so often painful (for both the students and adults around them) because it’s designed without a basis in developmental science. It’s not aligned with the core drives middle schoolers feel, the drives that are wired into their psyches and biology. As a result, we miss the opportunities of what could be a beautiful phase in which giant leaps are taken toward adulthood, and when kids often discover the first real signs of adult potential within themselves. We spent three years researching the underlying developmental science of this age before we started Millennium, visiting schools, professors, thinkers, kids, parents, teachers, etc., and I’ve now spent nearly four years running our lab school to put the resulting practices into action. It’s still too early to say anything comprehensive about our insights, but we do have a few early suggestions from our adventure so far. What I’ve seen already has given me great confidence that middle school can be a consistently positive, inspiring, highly engaging experience for young people, one in which they greatly develop their minds, their sense of self, and a wide range of capacities and intelligences.” Chris Balme stepped away from The Millennium School in June, 2020 to found Argonaut: “Argonaut is a ‘pop-up’ camp designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person camps may be closing, but summer is not lost. Summer can still be a time of adventure, exploration and self-discovery. The name Argonaut comes from the Greek myth of the Argonauts, a band of heroes who embarked on an epic quest and had adventures of all kinds along  the  way.” If you love this “quick kine bites” episode please rate us in your Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher platform, and give us a review!  

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