Commitment to Learning

March 27, 2008 at 9:49 pm 1 comment

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about a different take on commitment to learning. The assets the Search Institute lists are important, certainly, but they’re all targeted at learning by young adults. Where is learning about young adults?

It’s my firm belief that education should be rooted in a sense of community. I see the best schools as the ones with strong parental and town (or city) support, networked with other institutions and caring people outside the school building. The best learning environments, in my mind, are the ones where students and educators foster a sense of mutual trust and respect. Those are two things that can be hard to earn, of course, and there can be sizable obstacles from both directions. One of the biggest roadblocks comes when we presume to know about each other without ever really asking.

The literary readings for this week are perfect examples. Snoop has the greatest respect for the adults in her life who not only care about her but know about the world in which she lives. Her foster parents provide love and support, sure, but they don’t really understand the world of the streets–and Snoop wouldn’t really let them in if they wanted to. Uncle and Father, on the other hand, are with her on every step of her tumultuous ride.

Body Type can be a huge eye-opener for adults, particularly some of an older generation who may still associate tattoos primarily with bikers, inmates and gang members. It’s true that many members of those populations (some of them overlapping) probably have tattoos, but today so do school teachers, athletes, accountants and librarians.  How many of today’s teens would be more interested in a line of poetry than a gang symbol? More, I suspect, than a lot of adults would like to admit.

I always find it sad when I hear adults–particularly adults who work with teens–make sweeping statements about teenagers. “They don’t read,” I hear. “They’re impulsive. They don’t think.” Where, then, did all the thoughtful tattooed twenty and thirty-something come from? We were all teenagers once, and our brains didn’t magically switch on at twenty.

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Entry filed under: books, Education. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  March 28, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    This is a great line – “Where, then, did all the thoughtful tattooed twenty and thirty-something come from?” Obviously, adults aren’t really looking at the big picture of teens but just the mind-sized bites that might be known from hearsay and not even actual experience.

    But, what really struck me is the opening comments in the post about the need for education to be a community affair. I’m thinking about that in the context of your discussion with Karen on her blog. What does this community approach mean in terms of the materials in the collection and how a librarian might support a parent’s concept of what her teen should read? Is there tension or conflict somewhere in here?

    Reply

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