Today we set out for our meeting with a local education professional with this thought in mind: How we go about using the day in front of us to make the most learning out of every experience?
Constantine and Alyse met with BE, director of the CARE program, on Monday, July 8th, for a discussion about Education. The following is a summary/ transcription of the discussion, as taken by Alyse.
BE- So, why don’t we start with what ideas you have?
Constantine Faller- Well, we are all “teachers”, some more than others. What I can offer from an employers standpoint, and what Alyse’s first task was is a way to explore the gaps in the education system in modern society. Our business has a firsthand view of these shortcomings. I have tried to develop a worker readiness certification but have encounted problems in methodology, etc. One of the things I brought up this morning with Alyse is how to explain this in an education context. Also, I want to hear the kinds of things that you are currently involved in: your “square foot”. There’s faculty around you, some I guess you are closer to than others, that you might get into discussions with about “what if” types of scenarios, and I want to know what I can do as an employer to help be a guinea pig and help provide a place for these things to happen. How can I be of assistance helping us all get somewhere we can’t get by ourselves. So this meeting isn’t just about me, that’s part of our company’s vision, to see where our goals align and how we can work together.
BE: Let me tell you what I do- This program is called the CARE program, it started about 25 years ago.We were truthfully very upset with the college of education, decided we weren’t going to have these people in our classroom anymore, it was less than worthless. So some people came up with this program and they wanted us to be involved. The program has basically these purposes: 1. It gets education students in the classroom early and often – before they even start student teaching. 2. It is a progressive, democratic education. We believe that kids don’t turn 18 and automatically become good citizens. “How” you teach is more important than “what” you teach, it is school’s job to make kids ready to be good citizens. There is a lot of critical thinking, developing programs. We work with the students as collaborators and partners. I coordinate the program, I bring kids into it, do the adminstrative stuff. I work closely with Fed Hock because we are in a partnership as well. Several of our instrtuctors are also Fed Hock teachers. The goal right now is to develop long-term programs or projects that our studnets can work on with Fed Hock students and teachers where all three groups have input into what is going on. We did a project recently [where there was a chemical spill on a 6th grader’s farm, and the students worked together to investigate, clean up, and learn about the soil and water]. The students came up with the project and developed it themselves. We were able to incorporate math, social studies, science, and language all in a project that the students had created which was really great for them.
So with this opportunity, It sounds like you are looking for entreprenurial type things.
CF: In the sense that our company is building resilience it is in a sense entreprenurial, different than selling “widgets”, like most people do. In doing what I am trying to do- build solutions, build ways for communities to pull them selves up, as an engineer, instead of trying to say “this is what we need to do first” I am trying to identify the starting point. The best place to start with – is it education? Communications? So, trying to decide what is the most important element. This came up because an infinite number of people have asked me, when asking about what Athens’ Own does: “Can you give me that in writing?” So then, what skill do I not have that would help get them their answer, better than it is being communicated now? Which skills should be able to write something like that?
Bill: So it is ok that there aren’t projects fleshed out, that doesn’t bother me, there are other people i’d like to bring into the process.
CF: Great! It should be a democratic process, and we should talk about what can everyone bring to the table. So that is great. What are people’s skill sets? I know a lot about food, and engineering, so that’s what I personally can bring to the table. And that’s part of our strategy, identifying what is in everyone’s “toolkit” and how we can work together.
B: I like the idea of education contributing to a healthy community
(I missed some conversation- was eating delicious sausage and eggs!)
CF: We are trying to get across the idea of looking beyond the widgets, beyond the money, to what else is happening. Particularly in rural life- how does a community come together in order to sustain itself? One thing I thought about recently is how the linkage through church isn’t as strong in our society as it used to be in the past. However, there is still a link through schools. It used to be that churches were a central link in the community, with kitchens, gatherings, etc. Not so much anymore, but schools have the opportunity to be this type of link.
In terms of business, if I was just focusing on next quarter, I would just focus on widgets. If I am focusing on the next 100 years, I have to focus on more. It makes business sense to focus like that, it is cheaper in the long run, the cost to our future greatly outweighs the cost to me right now. It’s long-term cost savings.
BE: Sounds like we have a lot of overlap in what we want to do. The question is, where from here? I like short term projects that I can get kids involved with, but I like them to have long-term applications.
CF: How soon are you ready to hit the ground running with something?
BE: August, when the studnets come back. We have some students who are really capable and enthusiastic, and I want to throw them into something meaningful right away.
CF: How much would it entice you if it were a building block type of thing?
B: That’s an essential part of it, it’s potentially a good thing, although it needs to be something real.
CF: Not to overshadow what we are talking about, but I doubt this concept is confined to local. With this kind of progam, I would like to see it as a kind of model of our effort for other communities. How can students be an intimate part of changing their future?
- Game idea- entreprenurial ideas for prizes, cash, charities, etc
BE: I think a project that is meaningful can have more inspiration than a cash prize.
CF: It has always been a goal of Athens’ Own to have the company be student-run eventually. There’s just so many possibilities. How do we come back to a kernel and start? With Fed Hock being an agricultural, rural setting, do you think having it food-oriented in some way would help people see that we are going to buid better community and this is how we are going to do it? Again, this is just throwing out ideas. We are certainly doing a lot with food, but what does food have to do with building resilience? Helping the RBR be a viable farm, building food security, etc.
BE: And the advantage would be you cast the net and bring some kids in, and get their families involved, they can see in their lives some application.
CF:There’s a lot that is viewable through the window: the inter-connected businesses, getting the product to cusomers, the social situations, the biology of the soil food web, etc. The linkages outward, not just the teachers, but the “trickle-down” tertiary effects…
BE: Yeah, the more people you bring in the stronger it is, the more ideas you have, the more you are able to come up with something.
CF: Without losing this point: the heart of this is education, not food.
BE: So it sounds like what we need to think about, is what are the initial building blocks, what kind of process type things, at least.
CF: I think prior to putting food on the table, I think I heard some of the conceptual building blocks of the program (CARE), I would be quite excited to just open it up to group discussion, including creating a forum…although people don’t need another forum to be a part of so maybe not… It would be nice to hear directional-type things that other people have, their own goals. How to weave as many pieces as possible together. Maximum positive effect.
BE: We want to give kids an education that matters, not just filling in bubbles on a standardized test. I think when kids have the kind of education we have been talking about, the standardized test takes care of itself. They have that and beyond.
BE: So would it make sense then to get together again with some more people, teachers, administrators, and try to come up with what are some of these building blocks, and what process can we use to get there, and what building blocks we can use over time. You’re wanting to change the educational system and I think this is the place to do it. The district is in a good place to do these things, to move in a this type of direction. I think you and I are in a good position to enable certain aspects of what they want to do. They see value in what we are talking about, we can become somehow a part of what they are doing, We don’t have to sell them on anything, we are already a forward-looking, progressive, democratic community.
CF: And I have an opportunity to field test the results.
How soon should we have a larger group meeting?
BE: Either the 16th or 15th of this month, or right after the first of the month in august
CF: So basically what we are talking about is,
How can food help edcuation?
Education is the foundation- how can all these other things help build towards education?
How can the sale of a steak help fill in these gaps we see?
BE:The beauty of it is, all you need is something that matters to the kids, something they care about, the education will happen on its own. Good teachers can see these opportunities for learning in what they are doing.
Set meeting for the 15th at 10, tentatively at the high school