Wednesday, November 08, 2006


disjointed piece. sick. tired. deliriously happy

It has been a long day. Lovely. Amazing. Incredible. But long.

As a “reward,” we took the kids across to Hampton Court palace. They were all happy to be getting out of “school.” The staff was excited. It ended up being a very free form day. Why? Because the kids have learned how to become engaged with historical sites. they could be “trusted to “learn.” And learn they did!

I somehow ended up with kids who hadn’t been on the project. It was a different experience. Part of me regrets not falling inside of the enthusiasm of the youth with whom I’ve spent so many weeks. Part of me is delighted to infect new children with a love of learning.

The regulars - I’ve given them code names.

“Act Out Youth” has severe attention challenges.

“Invisi-Youth” wouldn’t even let us use their name or look at them. (Yes, I spent three weeks talking to this youth with my head turned to the side as if I were talking to an invisible friend.

“Sensi-Tall” is great with one-on-one, but freezes and worries constantly about being perfect. Sensi is fascinated with The Royals.

“Silence” has spoken a total of 100 words to me in this six week journey. “Silence,” however,r wrote me a lovely metered poem - voluntarily. And read it not once - but four times in our group meeting and another three for the videographer. (So, we’ve had maybe a total of 700 articulations in 6 weeks.)

When I did get a chance to check in with my regular students, I saw a most awesome spin. Throughout the day, we saw a very different dynamic, Act Out youth was shunned or avoided by Silence, Sensi-Youth and Invisi-Youth. More importantly, they would find positive ways to slip away or urge Act Out Youth forward - so they could....learn.

At one point during the day, Act Out Youth was getting loud.

Invisi - Youth turns to this person and says, “Ssssh! I can’t hear my audio tour.”

What is this? Peer pressure to engage with education? Unheard of! Unnatural! Teenagers who want to listen to history on an audio tour of a historic site?

Regardless, they were willing to embrace Act Out Youth in moments of co-operation. And when Act Out Youth was out of control, they found creative solutions to redirect the energy.

But, the fact remains - they did the work the teachers were supposed to do. And we’ve learned. If they are given responsibility for their own education, they will find a way for the entire group to learn, whilst at the same time seizing and safeguarding their own opportunities.

More importantly - the teachers gave them the space to work this out for themselves.

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