Archive for Education

Preparing Young People for the Future

Running school kidsKids today have so many stresses facing them, not the least of which are plans for the future. It’s hard to think about being a successful adult when you also have grades, portfolios, advanced classes, and high emotions to deal with every day, let alone the fact that humankind is starting to look more and more like an endangered species thanks to how we’ve treated our planet.

For many young people, school has become something to get through before they can move on to the next thing, and whether that includes college or not is a big question these days as tuition and student loans skyrocket.  The good news is that many states are home to leadership schools, which take brilliant young minds and teach them how to be exceptional leaders in a world of growing technology. There is more to building a sustainable planet than getting some people and businesses to “go green” by giving them tax incentives. That’s not a bad thing, but we need young people to not only develop into environmentally-conscious adults, but to take the lead on preserving our environment.

These schools vary greatly in their curriculum, with each focusing on a different method of teaching and learning. The National Outdoor Leadership School offers wilderness education and leadership to kids aged 14 and up, letting them soak up the outdoors in one of several locations from the Rocky Mountains to Australia. These courses include white water rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, sailing, and wilderness medicine and will teach young people survival skills in addition to how to lead a group in an outdoor environment.
Read More→

Education in Arizona – How Are We Doing?

Arizonans consistently agree education must be a top priority, so imagine if we all acted accordingly. Every child, regardless of background, income or ZIP code would receive a world-class education—from the early years through college and career. Our students would be the most educated, skilled and sought after innovators of the 21st century. Arizona would lead the nation in attracting and growing jobs. Everything from property values to health care to crime rates would be positively impacted. In partnership with Expect More Arizona, the Center for the Future of Arizona developed the indicators below to track our collective progress. Click through each one to learn more about each issue, statewide efforts to address them and ways to get involved.

Take a look.

Communities of Character

by David Brooks, New York Times

We live in an individualistic age. As Marc J. Dunkelman documents in his book “The Vanishing Neighbor,” people tend to have their close group of inner-ring family and friends and then a vast online outer-ring network of contacts, but they are less likely to be involved in middle-ring community organizations.

But occasionally I stumble across a loving, charismatic and super-tight neighborhood organization. Very often it’s a really good school.

You’d think that schools would naturally nurture deep community bonds. But we live in an era and under a testing regime that emphasizes individual accomplishments, not community cohesion. Even when schools talk about values, they tend to talk about individualistic values, like grit, resilience and executive function, not the empathy, compassion and solidarity that are good for community and the heart.

Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked 10,000 middle and high school students if their parents cared more about their personal achievement or whether they were kind. Eighty percent said their parents cared more about achievement — individual over the group.

But there are some schools that nurture achievement precisely by building tight communities.

The Denver School of Science and Technology has an intense values-centered culture, emphasizing values like respect and responsibility. Four days a week everybody gathers for a morning meeting. Those who contribute to the community are affirmed. When students have strained the community, by being rude to cafeteria workers, for example, the rift is recognized, discussed and healed.

Last week I visited the Leaders School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which is a glowing example of community cohesion. This is a school with roughly 300 students who speak between them 22 languages. Eighty-five percent are on free and reduced lunch. Last year the graduation rate was an amazing 89 percent and every single graduate went to college. The average SAT score was 411 math and 384 verbal.

Read More…