Back to main KUWENTO page

Georgina Blackett: On Social Aikido with Scott Sherman

On Saturday, November 8th, Teach for the Philippines’ Teachers Fellows and staff headed to the HSBC Center in Fort Bonifacio to attend a training with Scott Sherman, founder of The Transformative Action Institute. This workshop on “Creating Social Change” was our sixth “Super Saturday,” one of our monthly teacher training and professional development sessions that aims to equip our teachers with the tools and strategies they need to become transformational educators and more empowered advocates for the communities in which they serve.

Even as a member of staff*, I didn’t know what to expect.

I had read Pat Feria, our Chief Strategic Resources Officer’s, testimonial about her experiences working with Scott, and how he continues to inspire her every day; I had browsed The Transformative Action Institute’s website, read about Scott’s work as a lawyer and community activist, and learned about his doctoral thesis on the strategies that effective change-makers employ to transform their communities and themselves.

I knew that this workshop, with its focus on social change and an agenda that included topics such as “Transformational Education,” “Building Strong Relationships, Allies, and Networks,” “Win-Win Conflict Resolution,” and “The Science of Luck” would be relevant to our work, to our mission to create a community of leaders dedicated to ending educational inequity.

What I did not expect was that Scott’s workshop would have such a profound effect on my daily interactions with my teachers, my team, the other stakeholders involved in our work, and the people in my personal life.

Scott is an incredibly animated, warm, and entertaining speaker, whose training is full of personal stories, references to popular culture, and games and activities, many based on the tenets of improv theater (“Yes and…”). This fun, light atmosphere belies the seriousness of the transformation that happens when you start seeing the world the way Scott sees it. His training was one of those experiences were a seed is planted- where days, weeks, months later you find that you’ve still been turning over the ideas you learned about that day in your head, where, perhaps before you even realize it, you find yourself repeating key take-aways from the workshop to everyone you interact with, sometimes (in my case) to total strangers.

Indeed, in the month since that “Super Saturday,” it’s not unusual to hear TFP staff telling each other to “Positive 5” that difficult situation, or to hear a teacher reflect on how he started to walk with that co-teacher he used to argue with, or have a school team actually brainstorm 75 ways to motivate their students with the lowest attendance to come to school.

I think I can safely speak for all of us at TFP- staff and Fellows alike- when I say that working with Scott helped us re-dedicate ourselves to our nation-building project and our vision of  creating a Philippines where, by 2050, all Filipino children have access to an excellent and relevant education.



By: Georgina Blackett, Programming and Training Team
*I am a former Teach For America Corps Member and one of the current Leadership Development Officers on the Programming and Training Team—basically one of the teacher trainers here at TFP.