(Photo Courtesy of Marcus Spiske)

If you have children, or some sort of meaningful peripheral relationship to them, you have likely come across Margaret Wise Brown’s book, The Runaway Bunny. Or perhaps you remember it being read to you as a child, which I certainly do. It wasn’t until I had my own son that I was reintroduced to this seemingly innocuous story and was able to more carefully consider its implications. To be honest, and perhaps this is too revelatory, I was actually disturbed by its content when I put it through the Freudian meat grinder. …


It was about six months ago that I was introduced to Wendell Berry’s writing through a reference in a Michael Pollan book. In this book, Pollan points to Berry’s concept of eating as an agricultural act. There was something about this concept that sparked in me a desire to learn more. Not only have I not emerged from the Wendell Berry rabbit hole into which I descended, if I manage to emerge at all, I will not do so unchanged.

There is something foundational about Berry’s writing that set its hook in me. Somehow, through the lens of his farming…


I was attending an educational conference in Bangkok this past month and found myself in a particularly frustrating session. It was titled, “Happy and Healthy vs Shame and Perfection: Supporting Students Who Have a Desire to be Perfect and Succeed in Rigorous Environments.” This session was led by a very passionate and engaging social-emotional counselor who is working at a private, high pressure international school in Asia. The crowd seemed genuine in their motivation and the speaker seemed to be doing good work for a bunch of stressed out youngsters. However, something didn’t feel quite right to me. …


As I am sitting down to write this post, I am doing so from Hong Kong. I have taken a position as the College Counselor at The Harbour School (THS) which is a small progressive international high school. While I enjoyed my professional experience at Bennington College, I am excited to finally get the chance to put my progressive ed ideas into action in a more direct way. The high school at THS is only a few years old and has yet to have an official college counseling program. My aspiration is to be iterative and creative, working to empower…


(Note: all enrollment data is from the National Center for Education Statistics.)

With the recent revelations regarding the nefarious underbelly of highly selective college admissions practices, I thought it might be pertinent to take a closer look. I’ve read through a number of responses and do feel like there are some additional takeaways that haven’t necessarily been investigated. For me, there were three moments that stood out as significant, and that I will get to later, but I think I should disclose from the outset that I do not believe this is a college problem. It’s bigger than that. This…


At our son’s preschool, the kids have been learning how to write by tracing dotted lines in the shapes of letters. They do this every day, four days a week, and then they are sent home with a similar worksheet for homework over the weekend. To put it mildly, he doesn’t enjoy doing this. To put it mildly, I don’t enjoy trying to make him do it.

I was explaining this scenario to his preschool teacher and she told me, “He’s just being lazy. You have to sit him down and make him to do it.” I immediately went to…


What does the college process mean? When I use that term, I am referring to an all encompassing idea that includes the primary, secondary and tertiary processes. Everything from application to enrollment deposit, and the ancillary processes like private college counselors, audition or portfolio coaches, test-prep, college bootcamps, essay workshops, case study programs, campus visits, pre-college summer programs, etc.; all of which are meant to increase the likelihood that a student will be admitted to the school of their choice. So, what does this have to do with progressive education? As it stands today, very little.

Before I go too…

Brennan Dignan

College Counselor at The Harbour School in Hong Kong

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