Case Studies

We seek to align social practices with values in order to develop capacities that contribute to the greater whole and to humanity. The following are case studies related to the art of conscious conversation.

Restoring Vitality to Community Life

An independent Waldorf school was in a challenging situation when they contacted the Institute for Social Renewal in the winter of 2012 — dwindling enrollment (partly due to a number of charter schools in the area), financial instability, social problems, and an eroding reputation in the community. ISR provided consulting services with a public talk and workshop in early 2013. We were pleased to hear recent news and an update:

We are drawing towards the end of our spring fundraising drive. Besides money for our immediate needs, the spring drive has yielded some nice surprises for next year: some grandparents have pledged to pay the full amount of their grandchildren’s contribution and one has pledged $1,000/month to help lower-income students attend.
We are losing some families for unavoidable reasons, but we have also gained families as the good news about our school and the ATA program spread out into the community. We’ll have many more families in the school next year than we did this year, which bodes well for future enrollment.
The best news I have for you is that, ever since your visit, the school community has erupted with enthusiasm and vigor, like a field of blooming wildflowers. Amazingly resourceful and committed parents have come out of the woodwork to step into some key roles, and the general feeling in the parent body is one of love and appreciation for the school and excitement about its future. To have these amazingly capable people stepping up with energy, creativity, and skill generates a really huge experience of relief and thankfulness.


The Art of Conscious Conversation as a Guiding Principle

At the very beginning of the Singing Stones School, the founders understood the value of the art of conscious conversation in understanding how to serve families. Dana Jain, founder and teacher, explains it this way:

The art of conscious conversation is connected to two important questions. Are we listening and understanding the child that is in front of us? Are we using the same approach in understanding the parents?
As a school, we want to value each other as human beings. We want to listen to each other and we want others to feel heard, seen and respected. If we want a wholistic education, this needs to be at the very root of everything that we do.
We know that Singing Stones School needs to be based on constantly striving to value each other — not just in the environment of our school, but in the school’s very substance.
When we seek to understand what a child needs, something arises in the conversation that comes, not just from one person but from the perspectives of all the people involved. The direction of the school and the leadership emerges from this understanding of the child’s needs. The art of conscious conversation is a way of making space for this understanding — and for the organism to change and grow.