June 09, 2006

Take the Good from This...

Take the Good from This…

As I was glancing over the Washington Post, I came upon an interesting article titled, "Getting Mad About School," written by Post Education Columnist Jay Matthews (Mr. Matthews is also the creator of the ranking system Newsweek used in their article about America's Best High Schools). The article essentially is about pushing the boundaries to improve education and achievement and the good and bad consequences of doing so.

While the piece is a feel-good story, the part that I truly enjoyed was the example of civic learning and advocacy that was used as the premise of the article. Basically, a principal in Houston "...in the guise of a lesson on advocacy in American democracy, had instructed his 70 fifth-graders to call about 20 downtown administrators and complain that nothing had been done to find them a school building for the following year." The article further describes the lesson. "He timed it for a teacher training day when his students had a holiday, but administrators would be in their offices. He gave a lesson on how peaceful change comes in America and gave the students a script to help them out. They practiced the words: "I am an extremely hard-working student. I am part of the KIPP Academy and we were supposed to know where we were going to be next year, but we don't know yet. I wonder if you have any information about where our new building will be. My family and I are very worried about where we're going to be next year. We want to make sure we continue to get a great education."

I really liked the lesson itself described above. What a great way to empower kids. Give them the information and the proper supervision, but also provide them with an opportunity to take that lesson and apply to bettering their own lives and the lives of others. Imagine how the kids in Houston feel knowing that the lesson they learned and the actions they took contributed to improving their educational situation? Think about how they'll feel as they see other kids or their own siblings benefiting from their small contribution. I hope more kids have increased opportunities to take their academic lessons and apply them to services and/or benefits for their communities.

Lastly, I hope more people, specifically the supporters of service-learning, take the lesson on advocacy in the article to heart. We need to make our phonecalls and contact Congress and tell them to restore the traditional funding of $43 million to Learn and Serve America. Hopefully, we'll have similar positive results like the kids!

I've attached the link for the entire article for your reading pleasure...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060600517.html

1 comment:

Andrea Lawrence-Stuart said...

Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson has posted a series of commentaries on the assumptions of education, titled "The Education Paradox" (I-V). Part I, Fatalism and Aspiration, discusses the question, "Does the institution assume that everyone who matriculates will be able to finish? Does it follow a sink-or-swim policy to weed out the weaker?" Part II, "Schooling vs. Learning" begins with the question "Does schooling in our society work against lifelong learning?" These and the other three compelling parts are found on the International Leadership Forum's ILF Post, our new blog, http://www.ilfpost.org. Mary Catherine Bateson is an ILF Fellow.