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Showing posts from January, 2014

5 brilliant things I learned from kids this year

By Anne Stevenson

I'd be much less wise, and far less effective as an educator, if I didn't hang out with kids. Those of us who work with, or on behalf of young people, must be intentional about doing so. And then we have to listen and pay attention.

Young people of all ages have taught me many things in the past year. Here are five things I've learned (and re-learned!), and why they matter for all of us:

1. Wonder Kids are curious about everything and their willingness to ask questions makes them effective learners. Our job is to nurture and validate that sense of wonder and curiosity, and to actively cultivate our own sense of wonder. Abraham Heschel would remind us that "Wonder... is the root of all knowledge." In his book "Developing More Curious Minds," John Barell offers a wealth of strategies for nurturing curiosity and why it is essential to do so.
You might enjoy award-winning cinematographer and director Louie Schwartzberg's incredible…

Reflections on my first year in out-of-school time

By Joshua Kukowski

As a classroom history teacher, it was my perception that what happened out of school was not my problem. After one year as an Extension educator, I see that, and a few other things, differently.

Anniversaries are always moments of reflection and I am hoping to share some of the key "ah ha's" that I have experienced, learned, and rediscovered as I embarked in the out-of-school youth development realm. In the past year, I have experienced, learned or rediscovered many things. I want to share a few of them with you and get your reaction -- either as a veteran or a fellow newcomer.

Out-of-school time is vital
Our work is important. The perception that out-of-school time is "not my problem" is wrong and counter-productive. Youth spend more time out of school than they do in school and those critical after-school times and activities have a deep impact on how our young people develop. Young people who have positive out-of-school-time experiences…

Do we need to sugarcoat engineering?

By Hui-Hui Wang

Two years ago, I taught a science and engineering after-school program to a group of fifth and sixth grade girls. I asked them what engineering is. No surprise, their answers were all associated with fixing things and building a building. This echoes some research findings that these are common misconceptions about engineering. After completing the program, the girls could identify what engineering is. But they still did not want to pursue engineering as a career choice. What went wrong?

I think it is the way that we present engineering to them. Next Generation Science Standards 2013 defines engineering in a very broad sense to mean "any engagement in a systematic practice of design to achieve solutions to a particular human problem." In short, the essence of engineering is a goal-directed problem-solving activity to find the best solution for a human-made problem. This is really important work that will benefit large numbers of people. Now, how can we convey…

Learning to manage emotions as they learn about their projects

Emotions often arise in youth programs as young people work towards goals. Encountering obstacles can trigger negative emotions, such as frustration and anger; achieving success can trigger positive emotions, such as pride and excitement. This makes youth programs a rich context for emotional learning and development.

A recent article from a research study I am part of suggests that young people learn strategies for handling emotions that arise in their work on projects. The article examines how adult program leaders facilitate learning. This builds on previous research indicating that after-school programs are valuable contexts for youth to develop social-emotional skills.
How do young people learn to manage emotions in youth programs and projects?Youth learn about emotions through active, conscious processes of observing and analyzing their experiences; and they learn not only to regulate frustration, anger, and worry, but also to use the functional aspects of these emotions in cons…