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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Much Do We Grow After High School?

I never once heard David talk about any of these ideas in high school, and he surely would not have heard me talk about them either.  But what both of us received while we were there prepared us to learn these issues on our own.

[Dave is on the left with two beautiful young ladies from the Dominican Republic]

I've told my story - but in brief - I didn't enjoy school once I got to high school.  I was in it for the sports, and I didn't really care for any of my coaches. So you can imagine the misery.

I told my colleagues a story this week about my study habits.  I was new to the town where I went to high school.  Dad transferred jobs.  I was looking forward to a good change.  I decided in my first week of classes that I was gong to start paying attention and DOING HOMEWORK.  The first test I had was in Spanish.  I took my notes and book home.  I studied for over three hours.  I was confident.

I went to school (in the second week), took the Spanish 1 test, and received an 'F'.  I never took another book home to study


A friend of mine during my freshman year, David, is now in the Dominican Republic.  He's a professor there, and works to reforest the region.  Very cool.  Here's why.

I would guess that our classmates would not have thought either of us would have gone on to earn our living in academic/educational endeavors.  But we have, and, if I say so myself, I think we are doing important work not just for the sake of academics, but to make our world a better place when we're gone.

How do I know?

Well, a few weeks ago I was demonstrating to my classes the power of developing a network outside of face-to-face world.  I had just found David on Facebook through some other high school friends.  I looked at his pictures, read his updates, and was amazed at what he is doing.

I showed my classes the pictures of him with the people in the Dominican Republic (I also have two students from there).  We had just finished learning about deforestation in Africa, so David's work seemed to fit into both academics and networking rather well.

Jump ahead to this past week.  Haiti has a terrible earthquake.  We discussed it in class on Thursday.  I had one of my students ask if my friend was okay.  I didn't know who he were talking about.  He said, "You know, the one in the Dominican Republic.  It's on the same island as Haiti."  

My students asked if there was anything we could do to help him and the people in Haiti.  THIS IS HOW I KNOW I AM DOING MY JOB! NOT BY A TEST SCORE.

I did share with all my classes how they could help the Red Cross by texting 'Haiti' to 90999.  You still can.  If my information is accurate, my students (and their parents) donated around $150 on Thursday.  THIS IS HOW I KNOW I AM DOING MY JOB! NOT BY A TEST SCORE.


I told them I didn't know anything about David's situation.  I went to Facebook. I saw that his friends were worried about him.  His daughter posted a message saying David was okay, just busy, and in Haiti. I sent David a note asking if there was anything my kids could do for him or the people.  He had been in Haiti last Fall, so I knew he knew people there.

Here's his response:

Hey Rick...just got back from Haiti...well on my way back now.  Very much a disaster area...that has become a military operation.  Here is what you can do with your students:
  1. Learn about colonialism...not the definition..but the long term affects.  Much of the issues in Latin America can be attributed to the structural voids that remain when colonists depart.
  2. Learn about centralized governments.  The negative impacts in crisis situations.  Much of the government is dead in Haiti...and the municipalities have almost no authority. Rebuilding will be almost impossible.
  3. Learn about sustainability issues; deforestation, potable water, agricultural practices, waste policies..and how they will impact Haiti moving forward.  Much led to this crisis..obviously no one controls nature..but the infrastructure that was in place has possibly made it worse..and has made reconstruction almost impossible.
  4. Learn about the roles and responsibilities of the UN and other NGOs that are taking action in Haiti.  Understand the lack of communication of the NGOs and what that is doing to the efforts there.
  5. Most importantly..learn about inequalities..what causes them..economic and social structures....and how Americans view these inequalities.
These situations are always patched back together...with the assurance that the same systems are intact.  It might be an opportunity to visit the relationships of all economic and social systems...and how they contribute to the overall direction of humanity.

Enjoy...keep up your good work.

I ask if there is anything we can do for him.  His response - TEACH YOU KIDS!    DO THIS WITH YOUR STUDENTS!

Wow. He just "put feet on" 25% of my standards.  Everything in the bold is attached to the standards I am responsible for teaching, but at a much deeper and more practical level.  Notice he said, "...not the definition...but the long term effects."  That's what I try to do everyday. 

I never once heard David talk about any of these ideas in high school, and he surely would not have heard me talk about them either.  But what both of us received while we were there prepared us to learn these issues on our own.

So teachers, administrators, government, academicians...please understand that some students may not be what you think they should be while they are in school.  But we can become something anyway.

Posted via email from Murry's World


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