As children and youth we spend a good part of our day in school and what we learn about others and ourselves at school is as critical to our internal growth as learning science, math, reading, and writing is to our future livelihoods. These important crucibles for learning and self-growth are often under-funded and under-appreciated. Invite interested folks to join you in watching a video (listed below) or in reading a relevant article to learn more about what is being done to improve education and explore what you can do.
The Missing Piece with Curtis Acosta
An Arizona teacher discovers the missing piece of the achievement gap puzzle in our schools. Turns out, it has been right there in the classroom all along, staring teachers in the face.
Food for Thought with Mark LoParco
What does the Rocky Horror Picture Show have to do with feeding college students while helping local farmers?
Sisters of the Land with the Sisters of Providence
Future farmers and policymakers learn spiritual land stewardship at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice in Indiana.
Brainiacs Learn a Lesson
Champions for Children’s programming changed when they discovered how to learn from the parents they thought they were supposed to teach.
Tier One: Invite a couple of friends over for a potluck and favorite beverage, watch video, read article and use questions below or those found on each of the above video pages on this website to inspire conversations.
Tier Two: Follow suggested guide below for guests, setting, menu, etc. if desired.
Family, Friends, Students of any age, Educators, Parents of school kids, Community members who care about education, Retired teachers, Non-teaching school personnel including maintenance, cafeteria workers, office personnel, school bus drivers and school guards.
- If you are lucky and have connection with school employee, you might be able to use classroom setting at school or university
- Congressional Library in Washing DC or local library meeting space
- Room with books in own home including kitchen and cookbooks
Arrange in center of table small computer, chalk, paper notebook, pencils/pens, various books—art, music, science, math, literature, etc OR an arrangement or collage of photos/pictures of children in school settings around the world. (Google different classrooms settings like Inuit, French, Russian, Brazilian, or German Forest).
Provide crayons and paper and invite guests to draw with their non-dominant hand (to reduce critical self-talk about drawing ability) a picture of their favorite teacher from years ago, or of themselves in elementary school or of their favorite classroom memory. Share and describe the pictures with one another.
Dishes made from Brain Food—some are wild salmon, free trade dark chocolate and coffee, and blueberries.Wine: California School House Wine (pinot noir or chardonnay) OR wine or beverage of your choice. OR choose a favorite dish of one of the video speakers like Chicken Mole (Curtis Acosta); Venison Bolognese (Mark LoParco); or Cheesy Zucchini Casserole (Sisters of Providence).
Share photos of yourselves as students and comment on hairstyles, clothes and other fun aspects or simply talking about your relationship with your best friend in school.
Questions to be Asked After One Glass of Wine
What were the benefits and/or disadvantages of your public education experience?
Or if you were not a public education student, share the benefit and/or disadvantage of your private or home-schooling experience.
How might your positive experiences be transferred into your local school system?
Please share your experience if you had a teacher who made an unforgettable positive effect on you.
What are some of the challenges that your local public schools face today? Is there a difference in the challenges dependent on income levels of the parents and families?
Food for Thought Related to Missing Piece Video:
- Curtis Acosta is passionate about teaching and obviously much loved and respected by his students. Who was your favorite teacher in high school? Please elaborate and note any personal pivotal learning and/or experience you had as a result of that relationship.
- Imagine closing the achievement gap in high school! What an accomplishment. Curtis stated that it was important that Mexican American ethics was woven into core curricula like history and literature that resulted in students even doing better in math and science. Why do you think this happened?
- Why do you think that Curtis’ successful ethnic studies’ program in Tucson High School was banned by the Arizona state legislature?
- Curtis talks about the widespread activism of students, parents, grandparents and fellow teachers as a result of the banning of the class. Please elaborate on your reaction and share any similar stories that you have.
- What is the status of ethnic studies in your school district? Is it offered? If so, is it part of the core curricula or an elective? When ethnics studies is part of the core curricula as demonstrated by the program in the Tucson high school, it is more effective.
- For more information about Acosta Latino Learning Partnership: https://www.facebook.com/…/Acosta–Latino–Learning–Partnership/41584..
Food for Thought Related to Mark LoParco Video:
- Mark’s interest in local foods was sparked by his trip to Italy. Describe a delicious dish you have enjoyed that included locally produced food. Please share what sparked your interest in consuming and/or growing local foods?
- Mark reports that University of Montana food costs are at or below the industry standards despite widespread concern that buying local foods would be more expensive. Please share your reaction and thoughts about this fact.
- Does your local college or university have a Farm to College program? If not, Mark indicated his willingness to assist through the sharing of information and guidance to make this happen. Please contact him: LoParco, Mark firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do you ask about local foods or wine when you go out to eat? If so, what has your experience been like? If not, would you be willing to do so as a result of seeing this video?
Food for Thought Related to Sisters of the Land Video:
- The foundation for the work of the Center is the spiritual belief of the interconnection of all life and the sacred connection to nature. Do you agree or disagree? If so, please elaborate.
- The Center has many activities that promote sustainability and community including Community Supported Agriculture. Are you involved in similar activities where you live?
- Bree mentions how meaningful her internship is at the Center and how valued she feels by the staff. Do you or do you know someone who would benefit from the Center’s internship program?
- The US Department of Agriculture will spend $52 Million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs, and to spur research on organic farming. Research more athttp://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/fmpp
- Simple acts of recognition of the positive teaching and education experiences in your local schools do make a difference not only to school personnel morale but they also reinforce what you want to have happen. Write emails/letters or make appointments with your public school administrators and/or teachers to share your positive feedback.
- Please explore further remedies that you and/or the group can get involved in that address challenges to your local schools that were discussed earlier in the conversation. The California Trigger Law creates a parents’ union, which advocates say will provide powerful and needed counterweight to teachers’ unions and district bureaucracies.Others states have also started such initiatives. If 51 percent of parents in a persistently failing school sign a petition, they can force the school to change into a charter, close it entirely or replace the principal and teachers. What are your thoughts about this remedy for struggling schools?
- Nicholas Kristof writes in the NYT of “The Value of Teachers” about as study done by Harvard and Columbia economists that shows students with good teachers earon, on average, $25,000 more over a lifetime or about $700,000 in gains for an average class size. They suggest that if a good teacher is leaving that parents should hold bake sales or pass the hat around in hopes of collectively offering the teacher as a hefty bonus that would have him/her stay for an extra year. What qualities make up a “good” teacher? For more information on teacher effectiveness tools go to http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/10/teacher_effectiveness.html How is teacher effectiveness being measured in your children’s schools? Would holding a bake sale or passing the hat keep a “good” teacher there? If so, start organizing to make it happen.
The Edible Schoolyard is an initiative to build and share a national food curriculum. This online resource center allows educational garden, kitchen and lunch programs across the nation to share their lessons and best practices.http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/ Visit the website to learn more and to initiate one at your children’s school. The edible schoolyard in New Orleans (WWW.esynola.org) involves students in all aspects of growing, harvesting, preparing and enjoying food together as a means of awakening their senses, cultivating a school environment that promotes a sense of pride and responsibility for our land and natural resources, and developing a love of fresh, seasonal foods.
- Attend a school board meeting or Parent Teachers Association meeting to learn more about what is happening in your local school and to see how you can help.
- Parents are most likely involved in some way with their children’s learning at school but if you do not have children in school, consider being a mentor or tutor at the school, to a neighbor’s child or within a group like the Boys & Girls Club.
The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
It’ll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers. ~Author unknown, quoted in You Said a Mouthful, Ronald D. Fuchs, ed.