Conference feedback: People in your neighborhood


This continues our regularly-scheduled series of feedback I got when I presented on our coming schools at the annual IERG conference. Here's the original post, if you'd like to reference it!

People in your neighborhood

Ask the students who they want to hear from — brainstorm to get possible questions to ask.

Ah, see, I'm seeing that I constantly need to hear the "let students have partial control over this, too!" I believe in it — I just sometimes forget it. Thanks, anonymous commenter!

Bring seniors into schools, giving them opportunities to share their wisdom (that they may have even forgotten they have).


Utilize elders!

For years I've been wondering how our schools can help bridge the youth–elder divide. And then I developed this curriculum piece, but didn't see that it's a way to fix this problem.

Thank you!

Cross section of adults, especially in a small community.

Fascinating — a totally different way to think about our goals for bringing in adults. I had been thinking in terms of representing different, say, vocations, or religions, or philosophies — but we'll need to consider whether we want our guests to also represent different socioeconomic classes and ethnicities (even if we never say so aloud).

Enriching people's visits with stories about their professions... and how these professions have had an impact.

I wish I could ask this commenter to explain this more. Do they mean that visitors can share stories about their work lives? Because that's already part of the plan. Or do they mean that stories can be told (by the teacher, possibly) about the history of the profession? (When a hair stylist visits, can we tell the story of where the red-and-white barber pole comes from? Should we set each job in Big History?)

I sort of like that — especially as it's nice to introduce the speaker. Maybe the teacher (and eventually a student) can prepare a 1-3 minute introduction.

They must tell a story, not so much about work, but about life!

Yes! Though with a proviso that putting the word "must" in becomes tricky — we can't control visitors.

I think I'd be happy if a baseline was "students ask honest questions, and the visitor gives honest answers", and if we use all our wiles to tease out fuller stories.

Can the kids return the visit? Choose adults they can have a day with in "their" workplace.

Like a Take Your Daughters or Sons to Work Day? Hmm — possibly! The logistics seem difficult, but there's something compelling in that possibility. (Maybe we could just actively celebrate the fourth Thursday of each April, encouraging parents to let kids come to work, and providing a curriculum for kids to do there — things to watch for, questions to ask.)

This can be a very powerful way of learning — there would need to be a clear template on how to pick these adults (ones who will be fun, interesting, appropriate, who know your learning journey and would make the learning relevant to the students, etc.)

Absolutely correct! At present, I've no idea on how to set this up. Lee, save me!

My most amazing learning experience ever was a visit to William Head Penitentiary. They put on dramatic productions — storytelling. They shared the true struggles of life.

If we could ever take our kids to a jail or prison, it would be amazing. Simply amazing. It would be a sign we'd succeeded in doing important things with children.

Another thing (not responding to a comment, now) —

Last quarter, I tutored a college class about finding one's careers. As one of the assignments, students had to pick three potential professions and research them. What sort of education do they require? How much do they pay (in money, and other benefits)? What are the job prospects like for the next 10–20 years?

Going through this with my student, I thought: my goodness, why did I never do this in school?

I just fell into a career. And I've done fairly well for myself, don't get me wrong — but some advanced scoping out of the possibilities would have been wonderful.

My college student did this in a formal way — better still would be to tie informal stories in with big data.

I'm still not sure exactly how we could do this, but just having students visit the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Outlook Handbook after each visitor comes in could be a strong start.

We can raise our students to understand the broader world of work.