From Deborah Fields

I remember Naomi Miyake’s opening of the CSCL conference in Hong Kong in 2011.

She shared a story (and a perspective) that I have never ever forgotten and which I share with others. The conference took place not long after the tsunami hit Japan, and Naomi told about one elementary school where a local engineer had helped the school develop a different type of emergency preparedness than most of the other schools. Normally, she explained, in the event of an earthquake students would go to an open space in the schoolyard and wait for the teachers to check the school and come out. Relying on adults.

In this school, however, the students were taught to go to the schoolyard, evaluate the safety of the situation themselves, and go to higher ground if they determined they needed to. This school was one hit by the tsunami, and while the survival rate in all the other schools was extremely low, in this school it was over 90% because the children themselves took the initiative to evaluate their safety and move to higher ground.

The story brings tears to my eyes each time. What a belief in what kids are capable of, and what an important story to tell to remind us all to engage kids in their fullest capacities for reasoning and looking out for each other.

Naomi told the story with tenderness, and I know that her work as a scholar was with this ethic in mind – to educate in a way that children reach to their fullest capability in learning and taking responsibility.

I am so sad for the loss of Naomi to our community.

From Deborah Fields

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