Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Evening Epiphany

I don't know how I've gotten so scattered lately, but my wife has more than once looked at me and said, "You're multi-tasking too hard, you: You're going to make a big mistake soon."

She may be right. The whole thing is a train rattling down a steep mountainside toward...what?

The place where it encounters a steep upturn, a clean end to the track, and the vehicle takes wing and soars adroitly, elegantly, gracefully into the flattering ether?

Some long, level, languishing, loverly lane where the train (remember, that's the metaphor) lolls along indefinitely, its laughing engineer sipping a tasty adult beverage and learning lots of things?

The wall?

Heck, I don't know.

Anyway, I'll continue to update you as I can. This very day, by the way, I spent a nice hour in the midst of wonderful folks, the sophomore class at the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. These are my peeps, ya'll, 25 kids I filmed, recorded, and witnessed as they grew in their freshman year last year. I haven't spent any time at all with them this year, involved as I've been with podcasts and with trying to etch out a Second Life presence for the School's hosting organization, the Vanderbilt Center for Science and Math.

What I saw today indicates the program works--it is possible for kids to be yanked out of their public school routines one day a week for intense, hands-on, research based science learning, and for them to grow in self-confidence and knowledge in incredibly impressive ways. I'll be working next Monday (in my own bizarre one day a week work model for Vanderbilt) to concoct a Snacks4theBrain! podcast to celebrate all that. But here's the question for now:

Everyone's looking for a way to make education work. Is this model something that could be extended to other disciplines? Could we have a "School for Creative Writing at Vanderbilt"? Could dedicated Engineers create and facilitate a "School for Architectural Innovation at Vanderbilt"? What about a "School for Environmental Sociology at [plug in your own university]" or a "School for Health and Wellness Education" at [plug in your own university]"?

Is there truly a role for higher education communities to reach out to our struggling public school systems to offer innovative solutions for the terrible fix our national fascination with "accountability" has gotten us into, Ollie? My favorite quote here is, "You don't fatten the pig by weighing it."

Look no farther than the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. Really. Now you come up with a way to extend that incredibly effective model into your own discipline.

Talk at ya soon.


Bettina Tizzy said...

Interesting! Question back to you. Isn't what you are proposing already in place at magnet schools that focus on one area on another?

Scott said...

Backatcha with the interesting. That is a good question. Is it? I know that MNPS does have a science magnet school, and I also suspect that some of our kids at SSM may be from there. I'll do a little more investigation and see just how that relationship works. The main question I'm posing, however, is related to higher education's role in K12 education outreach. Given that "outreach" to K12 may be a rare concept to many universities, a one-day a week program that pulls interested kids from public schools--and maybe magnets are excluded--might not only extend the talent-nurture opportunities to even more underserved children...