In 2008, the students at the Ron Clark Academy wrote a song about the presidential election set to "Whatever You Like" by T.I. I recall it being on the news and being QUITE impressed with their understanding of civics. Watch the interview from CNN after the students performed below.
The deal is: I want to be able to open a school where the students are articulate and know how to communicate through words. They need to understand how our world possesses numerous views and how to stand strong despite compliance. Middle school students need to understand why, for example, the upcoming election is a critical turning point in United States history. They also need to understand that citizenship begins with kindergartners who understand how their communities work. As students get older, they will be exposed to pressing issues like the economy and job market, funding for education, healthcare, and the environment.
I would love having kids who would say something to the effect of, "Is there a way I could communicate with NASA and explain how I have always admired the space program? I have read about their vision for the space vision in ten years and am quite impressed!"
I also would love students to think of other children, whether they are in other countries, victims of a natural disaster, or in the hospital.
The thing will be getting them to think in a divergent manner, which will start with kindergarten. A kindergartner should have a basic understanding of what a president, governor, or mayor is. They should also understand that they can communicate with people easily using technology, which will begin with pen pal communication (within the state as well as internationally). I would also want them to understand traditional communication such as letter writing. As the years progress, they will engage in inquiry with their peers and contribute to our school's "Make It Happen" wall, which would be prominent in our cafeteria.
Our school would also have many display cases and walls. If a student felt excited about her letter from her Japanese pen pal, she should be able to display it.
Also as students, parents, and staff would enter our school, there would be a wall with individuals' photos with their autographs. Students from the years would be up there as well to show that once they step through the doors, they are always a major part of the school. Over that display would be the words in huge print: "DREAMS COME TRUE FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE."
Hopefully it would be a phenomenal place for people to think... an incredible dream come true.
Here are some other resources about kids developing a voice:
To prepare for the next post: "Organic School Gardens and Cooking at School":
- More Schools Cultivating Organic School Gardens
- Schools Teaching Organic Gardening
- Making School Lunches Organic
- Mission: School Lunch
- (Grade 2) Students Learn How to Cook