I just finished reading "The Bucks Start Here"
(October/November 2008), and I want to share a related investor-education program called Stocks in the Future, created for students from primarily low-income backgrounds at the Washington Jesuit Academy. As a reward for good grades in math and reading, along with regular attendance, students are awarded SIF bucks (real money), which they then invest in the market. They learn how to research companies, develop an understanding of investing, and ultimately purchase stock and track it. It is fascinating to watch these boys, who otherwise would not have the opportunity, become true investors in the market and in their education.
With every issue of Edutopia I receive, I take out the Sage Advice column, laminate it, and hang it in the teachers' bathroom. From the comments I hear, I know teachers read it. Sometimes you've got to think outside the box, or inside the bathroom!
Name withheld by request
A Smart Investment
A couple of years ago, a student in my multimedia class who had interviewed a local entrepreneur excitedly shared what he had learned about starting a business -- and said that every student in our county should have that same experience.
The local businessman who had been such an inspiration helped me start a program teaching students how to become entrepreneurs. Now, juniors and seniors at all of our county schools learn how to write a business plan, purchase real estate, get a loan, and do a host of other things. Each student has to create and operate a company, raising the necessary capital along the way. Our local business leaders serve as mentors for the class.
In just two years, the program has grown from the idea of a senior in high school to become a reality. That in itself is an example of entrepreneurial education.
As a media specialist, I always look for innovative ways to use technology. I am very fortunate to be at Whitewater High School, in Fayetteville, Georgia, where our principal, Greg Stillions, embraces teaching with technology. Using Interwrite Pads, video projectors, and wireless connectivity, teachers can access the Internet and computer files from anywhere in the room for instant sharing. Our latest acquisitions include personal-response systems for student and teacher use -- a paperless way to evaluate student progress. Thanks for writing about cutting-edge educational tools.
I read with great interest in the April 2008 issue the articles by M. Jones ("Childhood's End: Growing Up Too Fast") and Owen Edwards ("Up Front: Well-Chosen Words") dealing with student-centered developmental pedagogy in elementary school. Both articles speak in opposition to a troubling but popular trend. M. Jones calls it accountability. Others label it assessment-based learning. I call it an educational and social time bomb.
As a college professor for twenty-six years, I find students semester after semester who expect the teacher to teach to the test and who simply cannot apply what they have learned to their own lives. Perhaps most disturbing is the lack of basic social skills: communication, empathy, polite verbal interaction, sharing, and a sense of one's place in a community.
Unless administrators and educators recognize the fundamental need of our young children for a nurturing learning environment that emphasizes human values, human voices, and human interaction, I fear I will continue to look out on large classrooms of college students who see learning as separate from living, education as impersonal, and teachers as technicians rather than mentors and motivators.
The art of weaving character education and social and emotional learning into the teaching of a novel is paramount to bridging art and life for student learners. I appreciate the article's affirmation for effective teaching and learning with the whole child in mind.