Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stephen R. Covey blog: “Our Children and the Crisis in Education”

Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” has a passion for education reform and has now created his blog “Our Children and the Crisis in Education.”

This new blog shares insights on public education in America and how it can empower and teach youth in more effective ways.

Here’s a story from his first post:

“During a break in my presentation, Muriel came up to me, introduced herself, looked me straight in the eye, and asked: ‘Dr. Covey, do you think these [7 highly effective] habits can be taught to young children?’ I answered, ‘How young?’ She said, ‘Five years old.’ I thought about it briefly, and said, ‘I don't know why not;’ and then continued, ‘let me know if you ever try them out in your school.’

“And try she did. In the months that followed, Muriel and her team of administrators and teachers decided to create a whole new magnet theme for the school--leadership. The foundation of their approach combined the Seven Habits with quality, goal setting and measurement tools. The approach is inside-out, with the teachers and administrators learning, living and modeling the principles themselves first, and then, at the most basic level, integrating the principles into their teaching every day. There is no new curriculum. The principles of effectiveness are creatively woven by teachers into every subject -- reading, math, history, science, social studies, art, etc. From the moment they walk into the school each day until the final bell rings, the children soak in their adult leaders' belief that they are leaders of their own lives, have unique talents, and can make a difference. Each child, including those with special needs, is given a leadership role in the school: leader of greeting, leader of public speaking, leader of the school's daily news program and so forth. They love it and they thrive.”


First Place has been extremely successful using curriculum that builds on the students’ academic lessons, such as learning the times tables or periodic table of elements. At First Place, we utilize a community-based curriculum developed by our Executive Director called Classroom Without Walls. Each class chooses a topic of interest to them from the outside community, like the parks or health care, and then incorporates themes from those topics into their learning throughout the year.

When the kids went down to Olympia for the annual Have a Heart for Kids advocacy day, each student researched a current bill in the legislature that interested them. Some chose housing issues, others school funding, and several picked health care. Then they wrote letters to their Congress members to share their perspectives on the bills. This type of learning shows students that their education is not isolated, but relates to their community outside of school. It also encourages their involvement—and their parents’—in civic activities going on around them.


“The winds of education reform are beginning to stir once again,” wrote Covey. “Our collective conscience is being nudged. And there's good reason. The world has moved into one of the most profound eras of change in human history. Yet our children, for the most part, are simply not prepared for the new reality. The gap is widening. And we know it.”

Check out his blog on the Huffington Post for more interesting insights on public education today.

And stay tuned in on our blog for more info about Classroom Without Walls and First Place’s young leaders!

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