Humane Education

indexTo all educators, there is a 4th grade teacher, John Hunter, who includes a World Peace game in the curriculum. The movie and TED Talk are both great ways to hear about the educational experience. I recommend watching the extended trailer (second on this webpage).

It’s funny how much of our development includes winners and losers, in teams or as individuals. This game gives kids an experience where to win, everyone has to prosper and benefit.  It teaches them to think of the impact on others, both in war and prosperity.  They have many world problems to solve including environmental issues etc.  Now watch the film again and remember, these are 4th graders; they are ages 9 and 10.

It’s funny because Mr. Hunter makes a comment in the film about the importance of having a strong relationship with the students, which facilitates their learning.  It reminds me of a TED Talk by Rita Pierson, who shows how human relationships are mechanisms for learning.  She says something to the effect of… we won’t learn anything from someone we don’t like.

IMG_8174_905-350x233Building on this theme, I heard an episode on the radio program State of the Re:Union about an alternative education program for teen mothers.  Holyoke is one of the poorest town in MA, 348 out of 351 on the list; 25% of the population is living below the poverty line.  This is where the Care Center has opened up and helps teen mothers learn the skills needed to be successful in life.  Again, the staff discusses the recipe for success which depends on the attitude of the staff and their ability to connect with these young women.  They go on to discuss a recipe for success…

I’ve been wondering a lot lately, what is the recipe for educational success?  What gives someone the drive to succeed?  Maybe there is a biological aspect, a predisposition for a person to be motivated in their educational pursuits.  But there seems to be big component that is environmental.  What outside factors can we control, to create the most positive outcome?   Humans by nature seem to be inquisitive, and learning begins in the womb, so when does it stop and why for so many people?  Unrelated to teen pregnancy, the number of high school student dropping out in the US results in 1 every 26 students.

A common theme I have been seeing is also described by the radio show host.   Someone, a respected adult, sets the expectation of what the student is able to accomplish, and a support system helps the students make the achievements to achieve success.   Sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference, the power of a good mentor can change a person’s life.  And their success is in their rate of students going on to college; the national rate for teen moms is 2%, but the Care Center rate is 75% of graduates.

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