Monday, August 22, 2011
Telling our stories
I recently watched a great video about education paradigms. It's a short segment and definitely worth the time. As I scribbled some notes down while watching the video for the first time, what kept replaying in my mind was the question: What is the education story of our day?
As the video discusses, back in the day the story went something like this: Education is the great equalizer. You go to school, study hard, and graduate, and you will get a good stable job and be able to make a living to support yourself and your family.
Today we know that that a) doesn't always happen, or doesn't work the same way for all people, b) isn't the only way for a person to achieve security, and c) doesn't carry the same appeal to young people who are thinking differently about the future they want.
Given that, what is that story that we tell our kids to get them excited about learning and getting educated?
What is the story that they tell us about what they want out of their education experience? What do we tell ourselves that gets us motivated to think bigger and more creatively about our approach to education? What are the outcomes we want and how do we then track back appropriately as we design new systems of educating our youth? Final question, what do we need to do to fill in this story about troubles, challenges, and deficiencies in our existing education system, with equally important bits about solutions, successes, and newly discovered resources that are making things better for people?
As these things go, with this on my mind I found myself involved in two very interesting, related conversations. With one friend we discussed the power of storytelling and the need for educators and other education advocates to find and share powerful narratives about successful education efforts and the underlying values that fuel this movement. With another friend we discussed the importance of examining these very values that draw us into the education reform conversation in the first place. Understanding these values is what helps us unearth both the things we're trying to do, the things that fall outside of our work, and the proper methods for accompishing our goals.
Serendipity. You know things are going well when the universe drops gems in your hand. Specifically, just randomly on twitter I came across this great resource created by The Black Girl Project. It's an e-guide to college and what I like about it is that it takes me back full circle to the lingering question I had from watching the video about our education story. This project and its contributors are re-writing that story as we speak.
Here's the video I'm talking about:
As I gear up for the school year and my upcoming work helping students prepare to apply for, get into, and then stay in college, I've got my pen in hand to put my two lines into the storytelling piece as well. And perhaps more importantly, I hope to help more of our youth contribute to that storytelling process too.