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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Bob Scarfo

I taught in professional land planning and design programs in Canadian and US universities for 37 years. Easily 85% of my students' learning occurred through their working shoulder-to-shoulder with real clients working on real projects. During the last 3 years I taught in university, I had teams of alternative high school students working on semester-long projects with teams of university students. The high school kids did better than hold their own. In fact, on one occasion, at the final presentation attended by city officials and the public, the high school team blew the university students out of the water. I was both embarrassed and exhilarated. I now consult with high schools to help develop community-based, service-learning programs. My goal is to develop such programs that span K-20, challenge the kids to interpret and apply with atypical STEM areas of knowledge and skills, and contribute to their community as they learn to become contributors more than consumers.
I've realized that education is a marginalized institution. By involving youth's creativity and innovative energies with local businesses, professionals, elders, and others who have problems to solve, local schools can become more active participants in the communities they serve. The schools' "service," the kids' active involvement with a spectrum of residents, can in turn boost the public's understanding of and support for education, thus moving education from the periphery to the center of the community.

Areas of Interest: 
community-driven, place-based service learning,
assisting K-12 teachers learn how to start such programs.,
K-20 engaged learning with support from local professionals, crafts people, and artisians

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