Meeting at Fed Hock High School – 7/15/13
CF: To start, a little bit of background with Bill- through the window of business, we are working on building resilience. The solutions lie in places that are not part of our current educational stream. If we are taking interns from all these places (OU, hocking, etc), there are opportunities for us to create some educational models.
Some of the subsequent discussions have moved into evaluation, how to determine what and how students learn. If we’re working with students at OU, with someone who has already been through the education model, that creates its own problems. We say that as a business, you are not ready to work for us. That is usually shocking to students- I got this degree, you’re saying I’m not good enough?
We actually had a student write a piece on the shortcomings of education for one of her first projects.
Bill and I have talked about the care program, so we have the opportunity to get to these students early.
CB: So what type of shortcomings are you talking about?
AC: Writing, resumes, what I would call “common sense” skills.
CF: Alyse talked to a journalism professor who was shocked to hear that we had a complaint about one of her students’ writing. Critical thinking is another one. Social Skills.
CB: What exactly does your business do?
CF: (Explanation of AO, with help from Alyse)
CB: So are you a non-profit?
CF: No, we are purposely a for-profit. I chose it so that I could use that megaphone, that window of opportunity to get my message across. Like Bill said, we are doing a different kind of business.
How can I help the future generations to be better able to handle what is coming in the future? I’m not a doomsdayer, I’m a realist. What do I have in my toolkit that I can give to these kids? How can I use logic to help people see from point A to point B? Yes, this is Athens’ Own, and me, but the goal is that any community can build from the model and make their own marketing network and bring it to their community.
CB: So what were you thinking? What are your ideas?
CF: In the sense of pathways of decision making, I asked Bill if he was interested in an overall project in which the first slice, a micro-project, is a part of. For example, if building resilience is too nebulous, one slice of building resilience is local food security. One slice of that is local farms, what can we grow, how can we grow more locally. So, strengthening local agriculture. It is also a way to help me apply my training as a chef to help make this happen. If in any way the project is related to healthy community, somewhere further down the line is the Red Bird Ranch, a slice as a starting point is healthy soils. I’m not saying it might be the best one for these students coming in, but if you have a study of a healthy soil food web, how can that be broken into something the kids can do for one quarter, how long is the project?
CB: Were you thinking with the CARE?
BE: What I would like to see, is if we can get some CARE kids, something that would involve all three of us, the school system, AO, CARE. If you’ve got contacts with local food producers here, it makes sense to involve them also. It makes sense to start with something concrete that gets us all working together. I know you want to move beyond something short term, but coming up with something concrete would be a good way to get people thinking and working together, as long as there is an understanding that this is just the first step, trying to get some successful experiences under our belt. My involvement at this point would be a semester, but I wouldn’t want to stop with that. I like the idea of a partnership with a business, especially one who is trying to be as progressive as the district. I think our goal is similar. Perhaps one of the goals for Fed Hock is to start stepping out into the community and have a bigger impact on what’s happening in the community, beyond just sports and entertainment, but something that helps bring the community together. I think in doing that both the OU and Fed Hock students would feel inspired to be a part of that.
Students turn in sub standard work because they’ve never done anything REAL. They turn in the paper and skip off, whatever grade they get is fine. They want to do something real, something that inspires them.
BE: (Explanation of foxfire project in Georgia). The kids loved it, they were doing something that MATTERED. If it was a good issue, it was because the kids put into it what needed to be done. If they didn’t feel it, they would put out something that was substandard, but they didn’t do that, they had a personal stake in what they are doing. That’s what we want in our educational system, that’s what kids will get excited about, it doesn’t matter if they are in college, or a freshman here, etc. If you talk about social skills, it gives them reasons to work together and develop those social skills. All these things that you want, I think are things that we want, all these things are there, and it’s because of the partnership. What we need to do is figure out where we can begin to cooperate. You want to develop these skills, and you want to do it under your business models. So where is it that we start? How can we begin to cooperate so that we are helping our community become healthier, more self-sustaining, we’re helping kids become more involved in doing something that matters in the community. And how can my students assist?
CF: Is there anything in the educational models that illustrates the interconnectedness of life on this planet?
CB: Our science programs definitely touch on some of that…You can do things two ways- in a classroom or in some outside activity. Kids here have to have citizenship points to graduate. As little as going to a board meeting, but it gets more involved from there. Bill, you’ve usually worked with teachers in the CARE program.
BE: Yes, and there’s difficulty finding the time and space to make these things happen in the way that we as teachers want it to. I haven’t always been successful in getting our end of the needs spectrum met, some of that has to do with the curriculum, and the test. It might be good to do something out of school at first.
CF: What I was asking was a question of whether a project base could help them reinforce what they are learning. If they are going to take their square foot of dirt and farm it, do the water and air matter? The usefulness of giving them real-world application. And what are the hundred year effects, and if this could be a useful real-world thing, a starting point to help reinforce some of those science type things.
CB: That is definitely part of our science program here. There is a garden out back, our teacher has been doing that for years. The teachers are in tuned with environmental issues. So yeah I think that definitely would be a real world application. I don’t think it would connect with the agriculture department, I don’t think they get that kind of spin in that department. They don’t quite have that kind of slant on things. So that might not work as well there.
(Discussion of AO’s beef processing, locations, people, etc)
CF: There are job opportunities for someone who would like a local job- helping process meat, etc.
CB: So back to the question of where do we start. How do you get the kids, how to get them to buy in? It would be a little bit of a commitment outside of school. We are a big district, but we do run activity buses…so how do we get them to buy in and then get there?
BE: Could we do over lunch?
CB: Definitely. We had a nutrition group come in one time. Lunch is a great time. But teachers do have constraints on their time.
CF: In the sense of a resilience building company, these things we sell are just the fundraising efforts. To be halfway good at that, one needs to be flexible. I can say, you will learn. If you come in and say you want to learn and here’s what you have in your toolkit, coming up with projects is an easy thing for me. Listening to everyone’s needs, how can we help being a part of making them happen? These are things I currently have on my slate, but it certainly isn’t limited. I’d rather hear, what is your primary need, and how we can be a solution to that.
BE: A need I have is to show that education doesn’t have to be book-centered. It is best when it is set into something real. It doesn’t have to limit you, if you can integrate the whole thing, especially things like math that you tend to break down into little things. You can use math or science to accomplish many things. There’s no advantage to knowing something if it doesn’t have any use. We teach things that don’t have use because it doesn’t have any context. All those other things come because you are doing something real, because of the context you put it in. So that’s my goal. Many college students are going into education because they had such a meaningless experience, they want to do something to change it. So our need is to do something real.
AC: I assume you’re familiar with the term experiential education? That’s what you are talking about, right?
CB: So how do we get this started?
BE: The beef thing, gives us a window to look at all these things, jobs, resources, businesses, etc.
CB: There’s so many levels to this. The middle school science class would be great for this. But there’s also these levels, like jobs, non-typical business models, sustainability, there’s so many levels.
AC: I think a good star would be to start with seeing the story
CB: I think that’s great, “what’s the issue?”
CF: My definition of food security is to be able to feed ourselves on an open timeline from sustainable local sources. As a scenario of a problem to solve, do we have the square footage, that’s tillable, to feed our current population? That reality of how much agriculture does it take for a family of four? Etc, etc
BE: even if you are’t going to look at this as a potential emergency situation, if you rely on local people, what does that do for the health of the community? If the money stays in the community?
CB: Well I’m thinking kids need a hook!
AC: Show them the food! Feed them a steak, show them a cow.
CB: I’d say every one of our students knows a farmer. The hook could be that, we are helping people we know. People know the Lackeys. Maybe its leanring more about the food.
BE: Going back to the 30 mile meal, how about the hook is, trying to construct a meal, one meal that is 30 mile meal. In the cafeteria.
CB: Whats a feasible number of kids? The middle school science teacher, he doesn’t have as many constraints. We want to make a more real middle school concept- inter-departmental cooperation. They can use their time for anything around the core classes.
BE: We could facilitate beyond just that too.
CF: There’s a lot of power in what a 7th grader can say….they’re old enough to speak with a mature voice. Without wagging a finger of negativity, going into a rotary that might be buying from GFS- giving a presentation on why they should buy food from the Lackeys. Get the kids to understand that the research might tell them that they might need to do things a different way. If it can potentially convince a rotary, then its one more body that is focusing on this: Make them say “when we eat at the country club, we are gonna eat 30 mile meal, that 8th grader convinced us to do something better for our future.”
CB: I think you’ve got your hook: your lunch prices are going to go up if you don’t find a way to buy local.
BE: 8th grade would be perfect.
CB: We have three teachers who I think would buy into this.
BE: So we have language, social studies, math, science. It’s a hook to get them out into the community and get involved.
CB: It’s got interdisciplinary written all over it. Do we just want to start with one class, you have a lot of kids…
BE: In effect what we are doing is giving these teachers a way to change how they teach. To put all the subjects together and to do something that is real. I think these deficiencies that you see, I think will become part of that. And at the end, the big thing is, we need to consciously look at how this 30 mile meal thing impact the community.
CF: One of the things we are trying to do is show kids and help them understand what they can do with their square foot. I think somewhere in there is where our solutions lie, from the ground up.
BE: Does this 30 mile meal thing start to get into where you want to go and what you want to do?
CF: Yes, I think it is a great hook.
CB: One of our challenges here has been to bridge our community-school gap. I think we’re starting to do that, but I think there’s ways that we can do better. I think this is perfect for that. I think the first step is to talk to the teachers and if they buy in and this goes well…we do have a lot of teachers who do project based things, we have practical assessments, the senior project. They know the idea, now how do I more engrain it into what they are doing in the classroom, and it takes outside people to come in and facilitate that. You (CF) help to bring that community connection.
CB: Well I can invite in that middle school team, would you like me to do that?
BE: I think a good next step would be to talk to these teachers, and see if they are interested. That gives us a place to start. I want my students to have some part in developing this, I dont’ want them to step into a project thats already full blown.
CB: Would the first teacher day, august 16th be too late to get together?
BE: I’d like to present the information to them sooner, let them think about it, talk about it. Then on the 16th come in and talk to them a little bit more. I don’t want to have it too finely developed. I’d like to give the students an option to come in and listen.
Conclusion: BE and CB will discuss with FH teachers, contact AC for more information later and to facilitate the OU student’s introduction to AO.