Institute 2

Institute 2:

The Institute on Descriptive Inquiry

The 49th Summer Institute on Descriptive Inquiry will be held virtually in the Summer of 2021.

Please direct registration questions to Stephane Barile and questions about the program to Cara Furman or Andy Doan.


At the Summer Institute we come together with others who share our commitment to creating classrooms and schools where all children—and all people— are valued. In joining our experiences, ideas, and questions with those of educators and others who share a vision that starts and builds from students’ and teachers’ strengths, we reinvigorate our own practice and our sense of what is possible.

The institute has two major components: the major seminar; independent work/small group inquiries.

Join us in the Summer of 2021...

Staying with Trouble:

Provisioning for Meaningful Engagement

In a Time of Crisis

The Summer Institute on Descriptive Inquiry

July 20, 22, 27, 29, August 2, 5, 6

Descriptions of work, readings, storytelling, journal writing, small groups

We locate ourselves on the shores of trouble -- operating within the dangers of a pandemic (still on-going), a white supremacist, colonial, capitalistic, and imposed standards driven environment that is unquestionably oppressive. What does it mean to stay with this trouble and yet keep provisioning a world beyond? We envision this year’s largely virtual Summer Institute on Descriptive Inquiry as a bridge. First we seek to bridge towards an in-person Institute in 2022 while building on the strengths of last year’s virtual Institute. We also aim to provide a place for on-going re-imagining of schooling in a time of intersecting crises. With such bridging in mind, we ask:

How do we provision for children, adolescents, and teachers in a time that offers both narrowing structures and possible opening opportunities?

What does it mean to take care of each other in these circumstances?

What have we learned about caring for children and ourselves in this past year and how might we expand these lessons going forward?

To explore these questions, the Institute will offer and build from descriptions of classroom work and shared readings from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Registration will open in May.


The Institute on Descriptive Inquiry draws a mix of returnees and new participants. The Institute extends a warm welcome to new participants. If you are a potential newcomer and have questions about any aspect of the Institute, please contact Cara Furman.


If you are interested in bringing materials for a study of a child or of teaching practice, please contact Cara Furman or briefly describe your ideas on the registration form.