Re-thinking Schools, Re-thinking Metaphors

A dialogue from Fielding Graduate University's Doctoral class, Rethinking Schools


  • Jamillah Richmond
  • Sharon James
  • Roel Krabbendam
  • Kailina Mills


rethinking schools, metaphors, Indigenous education


This article is a transcript from a doctoral class at Fielding Graduate University’s Leadership for Change program in a class called “Rethinking Schools.” In this session, the students explore the central metaphors and core tenets that undergird our educational paradigms and try to come up with their own pedagogy based on their own unique skills and knowledge. Through dialogue, they move from a mechanistic and linear model to one rooted in circles and spirals and eventually to the ecological and agricultural metaphor of the corn plant.

Author Biographies

Jamillah Richmond

Jamillah Richmond is an Afro-Indigenous mother raising her 10-year-old daughter in Colorado. She has a BA in Education and is currently enrolled at Fielding Graduate University for her EdD in Leadership for Change. She has been influential in developing policies to reduce and address disparities for non-white students within Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado, including initiatives to remove police officers from schools. She has consulted with schools and school districts to create instructional practices and curricula that are both culturally competent and multicultural. Jamillah is also an activist and advocates for students and their families to help address instances of racism within public schools.

Sharon James

Mrs. Sharon James, (Diné), Navajo, is of the Meadows by the Water Edge clan, born for the Mountain Cove Clan, her maternal grandfather is of the Red House Clan, and her paternal grandfather is of the Mexican people Clan. She is a new faculty member of the School of Diné Studies and Education at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona. She is an instructor of Bilingual Education, Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. She holds an Associates of Arts Degree in Elementary Education with Diné College. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Navajo Culture and Navajo Language with Diné College. She received a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University. She also received a second Masters of Education Degree in ESL and Bilingual Education with an emphasis in Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a doctoral student in the Leadership for Change program with Fielding Graduate University. Sharon intends to continue to learn traditional ceremonial practices, songs, and prayers to revitalize Navajo teachings, language, and culture. With a balanced integration and continuous learning of Diné and Western education, she aspires to empower, teach, mold, and guide Diné/Indigenous students, youth, and future generations to sustain and attain traditional knowledge, healing, and academic achievement.

Roel Krabbendam

Roel Krabbendam was born in the Netherlands and raised in the United States. A graduate of Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), he is an architect on over $400M of educational projects spanning preschool, K-12 and higher education. He has worked all over the world, including the Sahara Desert of Algeria, the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan and the Amazon Jungle of Peru. With his book school (2018, Ludovicus), he proposed a powerful and innovative new approach to public school facilities, and that work is now the basis for his doctoral dissertation at Fielding Graduate University.

Kailina Mills

Kailina Mills is a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University in the Leadership for Change program. She received an individualized Bachelor's degree from Goddard College with a focus on early childhood education, social justice education, and outdoor & experiential education. She received her M.Ed from Antioch University New England in Early Childhood & Elementary Education. She is interested in liberatory education for early childhood, the Reggio Emilia approach, and place-based education