David and Frances Hawkins

Author: Ellen Hall

Posted by Alythea

The work of Critical Explorers resonates with the ideas of globally renowned educators, authors, and activists, David and Frances Hawkins. Indeed, David was the first director of Elementary Science Study. To quote Eleanor Duckworth, “…David was the key I think to what was the heart and soul of the Elementary Science Study.” [1]

Founded in 2004, Hawkins Centers of Learning (HCoL) seeks to give visibility to the work of the Hawkins’ and their influence on education, both historical and contemporary. Since 2005, educators, scholars, leaders and advocates have gathered annually, sharing experiences and engaging in conversations surrounding issues in education. Materials workshops, designed to support adult engagement in learning through “messing about,” are critical components of these gatherings. [2]

As public frustration continues to build with the rigidity of current educational approaches in public education, teachers and students alike feel unengaged with direct-instruction types of approaches. Couple that with statistics showing that public school systems in the United States lag far behind other industrialized nations in their preparation of children. We suggest change towards an education that is engaging and relevant when approached from a perspective of discovery rather than a curriculum of rhetoric. We support change toward a world where children of all ages are valued and their ideas and theories honored; change toward systems of education that foster the natural inquiry of students as well as teachers in the search for understanding of the world in which we live. Hawkins Centers of Learning sees an opportunity for the pendulum to swing towards educational practices endorsed by Eleanor Duckworth and David and Frances Hawkins. Given the connection between Critical Explorers and Hawkins Centers of Learning, it would seem prudent to create a link between the two projects. It is noteworthy that one current endeavor of Hawkins Centers of Learning is to post all non-copyright protected articles from Outlook Magazine (the journal of the Mountain View Center on Environmental Education) on the HCoL website, including a blog for readers’ reflections. This could become a resource for the investigations of Critical Explorers. Other possibilities no doubt exist and can be explored as well.

Deborah Dumont and Ellen Hall
for Hawkins Centers of Learning


[1] Hawkins Centers of Learning. Interview with Eleanor Duckworth. Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, 13 Apr. 2010.

[2] David Hawkins, The Informed Vision (New York: Algora Publishing, 2002).


Thanks for this message, Ellen.  We are very busy getting our organization and website going, and it will be a while before we can think about collaborations with others.   We look forward to thinking about that with you when we have more leisure.   David H. was so important to me.

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