MIMIC THIS! When you get invited to events 3000 miles away (or 20 of them just across town), use COPY & PASTE with the really interesting events to seed your own community's plans for similar events. Why start from scratch.... Beg, borrow and mimic! More....
I've been reading some of John Taylor Gatto's work as well as some videos on Youtube. He was a New York school teacher that "dropped out" in the same year he received the Teacher of the Year award. His conclusion is that as a teacher he was doing more harm to children than good, and he applied that same general idea to government mandated public schooling in general - at least here in the States.
My own personal experience informs me that the US education system is extremely flawed, and while I'm not exactly on the page with everything Gatto says he certainly illuminates for me many aspects of the "education" process that I wasn't able to piece together myself.
For anyone familiar with his work I encourage you to leave your two cents in this thread, and for everyone else I suppose this is a lead to follow.
I teach at the community college level and the level of disengagement with real ideas and the ability to think and solve problems is quite rare among the majority of my students. After 8+ years of the No Child Left Behind program, things are worse than ever.
I think the NCLB emphasis on nearly endless testing and mindless "facts" and incompetent administrators have pretty much driven most accomplished K-12 teachers from the field. Any teacher who had a passion for, say, Shakespeare, and built the school day around this theme have left in disgust at the laser-like focus on standardized tests.
Schools DO do everything in their power to control students and teach conformity.
At a time when transition initiatives most require creative thought and problem-solving ability, we are going to have a hard time getting kids away from the narcotic effects of schooling and the media (and other digital distractions) and convincing them to help us solve the problems now confronting us as we navigate the many serious problems now becoming apparent.
Karl, we saw exactly the same thing in the 10 years we spent working with public schools. We do believe, however, that we must reach kids in their culture - their technology culture. Because they have grown up as digital natives, this is a comfortable venue for them. Much like the communities of interest we created at our local soda shop or other places we congregated.
We believe in creating social media tools to help kids with their offline relationships. By using adaptive learning methodologies that tailor content to kids learning preferences and by getting them engaged in social causes, I do think we can use the "digital distractions" to everyones benefit.
Jarrett, I can say after having taken a company public in 1999, my partner and I wanted to do something socially responsible so we looked at how we could help public education. We created "just in time learning" that helped kids in the discipline process get back in class and be ready to learn. OMG, I can imagine what John Gatto was feeling - this was the most enlightening and most frustrating experience of my life!
Imagine doing everything the way many K-12 administrators (principals, supts., asst. supts, etc.) say it must be done such as longitudinal studies to prove your product works (while there were positive testimonials galore from the customer - the student - themselves) and each time you finish one study (in a 2+ year time frame and thousands of dollars), they change the rules. You're told that you need another study to prove something else.
We had the solution for the dropout problem in schools. It was pretty simple and it was about giving validation to students by simply listening. We had students tells us that our e-learning based program was the first time they had been able to tell their story all the way through without being interrupted. We were listening to kids in the discipline process which is where many students start heading toward dropping out. The technology to create this environment was more complex than I'm making it sound but it worked over and over regardless of whether a child was in the inner city, suburb or rural community and race and geography were not factors either.
Not only were we keeping students in school and engaged (and improving GPAs) but teachers were engaged and more hopeful as well. (The majority of teachers either leave the profession because of the challenges of discipline management and try to escape to the suburbs where they think discipline will be better.)
So, we exited the public school system just as John Gatto did, and are raising the final stage of seed capital to create a social network that helps kids not only survive their youth....but thrive. In our social network venue, kids can access the tools we have to help them without having to go through their school. They can go directly to the social network without the adults getting in the way. Of course, we are creating as safe a place as possible and there are boundaries but not the boundaries we saw put up by many schools who are not embracing technology.
Thank you for this reference to John Gatto. I'm looking forward to learning more about him through the videos you reference on YouTube.