In search of deeper conversations on education


By Trace Pickering and Shawn Cornally


One of the greatest hopes for America’s future is its educational system. While it helped our rise to world leader during the Industrial Revolution, today it’s obvious that our educational system is ill-equipped to deal with the new realities facing our children.

To collectively act and move forward, we need deep and meaningful community learning and dialogue around this critical issue. IowaTransformED, a project launched by SourceMedia Group, seeks to facilitate this dialogue.

We want to engage in learning and conversation around questions such as: Why don’t our schools seem to work now when they seemed to work so well in the past? Can our schools be improved or do we need to re-imagine them? Are the schools designed to unfold the potential of every child? What are the assumptions and beliefs governing our schools — and our own thinking about schools? What is it we want and need to teach our children?

Iowa’s Creative Corridor has business leaders actively engaged and ready to help, non-profit organizations diligently working to impact student learning, and outstanding teachers, administrators and parents ready to push forward new models of school.

What we don’t have is a place for the community to come together to learn, share and develop support for actions that transform our schools and give our children what they need for their future.

This is the hope and promise of IowaTransformED. We seek to connect and engage our community in online and in-person ways, helping us collectively build the schools our children need.

Education cannot and should not be a political exercise. Giving our children the best possible education is a goal we all share. Our agenda:

l We are for what works to unfold the potential of every child in our midst.

l Learning is as natural an act as breathing. As such, we are for schools that fuel a child’s natural love of learning and creativity.

l We are for engaging children in producing, making and doing things of importance beyond the school or classroom as a way to learn.

l We are for engaging, connecting and giving voice to parents, students and teachers in meaningful ways.

l We are for an education system valuing humans beyond their test scores to develop well-rounded, compassionate and effective problem-solvers and action takers.

l We are for engaging our community in a substantive conversation uncovering and openly challenging our assumptions about school while learning to forge deeper understanding and a collective desire for action.

That’s it. IowaTransformED must be a conduit for asking and trying to answer some tough questions. It must connect passionate and involved people together.

So what will you find at Each month we take on a relevant topic and write articles, link stories and share people’s thoughts and opinions.

We call these “explainers” and hope they become a valued resource as you engage in this conversation.

We are following several area teachers for the year. These “peek-ins” seek to show what “being a teacher” means today. We are using Seth Godin’s book, “Stop stealing dreams — what is school for?” as a vehicle for conversation about important educational issues.

Finally, we will continually explore common beliefs about education and “school.” We will explore a belief’s origin, how it shapes thought and practice, and consider whether it is still a valid belief.

We encourage you to actively engage with us to share your gifts and engage in learning with us.

We look forward to seeing you at IowaTransformED — “Iowa’s Community Gathering Space for Educational Transformation!”

Trace Pickering is Director of Community Building and Shawn Cornally is Education Community Builder at SourceMedia Group, a diverse local media enterprise serving the Eastern Iowa region through The Gazette newspaper, KCRG-TV9 TV-9, and websites including and

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