Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday NY Times: Kids and Social Action

I really really enjoyed this article in Sunday's NY Times: A Georgia County Shares a Tale of One Man’s Life and Death.

Sure, it's a sentimental story about an elderly man who tells students who are interviewing him that he is worried about affording a funeral.
What caught my eye was the kids' social action and performance in the story.
Nice--that the project of raising the funds and material to give this man a proper burial was initiated by one of the students.
Nicer still--that the industrial arts teacher had his students build a coffin. And they became the pallbearers. Educators talk about the importance of performance-based learning. What a great example this is.
Even better--the person in question had one of his greatest fears quelled.

But--in my opinion--the real star of the story--the unsung hero--is the Foxfire Project.

Since its founding here in 1966, Foxfire has sent students out to interview aging relatives, vanishing craftsmen and all manner of homegrown characters. Subjects run the gamut: beekeeping, moonshining, witches.

The magazine’s articles have been anthologized into a popular series of books. With about nine million in print, they have been adapted into a Broadway play and TV movie.
What is Foxfire? It is a lot of things, but here's the one I will highlight:
• "Foxfire" is a method of classroom instruction—not a step-by-step checklist, but an over-arching approach that incorporates the original Foxfire classroom's building blocks of giving students the opportunity to make decisions about how they learn required material, using the community around them as a resource to aid that learning, and giving the students an audience for their work beyond the classroom.
Read more about Foxfire in general here. Read about their educational approach here.

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