Sarah Pirtle and the Discovery Center

Partnership Education in Action

edited by Dierdre Bucciarelli and Sarah Pirtle

Seven chapters written by Sarah Pirtle. 

A companion to Tomorrow’s Children by Riane Eisler, Partnership Way. 

Order From: Partnership Way Books
Cost: $15 

Excerpt from “Partnership Education in Action”

by Sarah Pirtle

CHAPTER SIX — Partnership Education: A Place to Begin

Activity One: Personal Stories of Partnership

Grade level: 4th-12th

Goals: to develop a personal reference for the meaning of partnership to gain new insights by hearing other’s memories of partnership.

Overview: This is an excellent activity for staff training as well as with students.

Optional equipment: A basket, a piece of pottery, and stones that can be held in the palm.


1. Sit in a circle. If you are using stones, provide one for each person to hold. Participants report that this tactile experience helps evoke their memories. Point to the basket and the pottery and explain that objects like these have been made throughout the world for thousands of years. Pause to discuss this together.

2. Ask, “Think of a memory of a time that you experienced partnership.”

During sharing, use a popcorn approach instead of going around the circle so that whoever has a memory can speak first. Often, hearing others’ experiences, sparks recall. Make sure everyone has a chance to talk, but also allow people to pass.

Encourage an expansive definition of partnership. In fact, if a student says, “I’m not sure that this is really an example of partnership,” encourage them to share it and clarify that what you are interested in is their personal definition; all examples are welcome.

Option: Pass a talking object around, such as the basket, for people to hold while they are speaking.

Example: “My family moved a lot. I remember being new in a school in second grade. Everyone was waiting in line outside the school building the first day. Some girls came over to me and said, ‘Come on, join us,’ and introduced me to other kids. This made a big difference in how I felt.”

3. Reflect upon what the stories reveal about the meaning of partnership. You may notice qualities such as feeling trusted, having creativity encouraged, experiencing freedom, feeling welcomed into the adult world as well as elements of cooperation and collaboration in the stories. Rather than trying to apply a narrow standard of what partnership means, we are trying to study it in all its forms.

4. If you have a basket and a piece of pottery, reflect as well upon ways people have passed on skills from generation to generation. Ask: how long ago do you think the first baskets were made? Think about the partnership that exists between one generation and the next.

Books by Sarah Pirtle