The last couple of days have been enjoyable because of the small but encouraging steps that we have taken forward. Sometimes, as I sit typing up this blog at night, I wonder how I ever came to be here. It is enormously challenging at times believing that all our plans have a chance of succeeding. We are in the process of enrolling our new intake of students in the secondary school that we started last year. This venture started the same way that all of our projects have. With one small step following another. Putting our enrollment policy together has made me think about the promise that we are making to these young people and the hard work ahead of us. My wife Judi emailed me a very well written article from one of the Kenyan newspapers about the problem of unemployment in Kenya at the moment. Following a worldwide trend youth unemployment is now a ‘ticking bomb’ and a problem that schools are having to face. Just exactly what are we preparing young people for? How do we keep pupils motivated? These are million dollar questions that just won’t go away.
I strongly believe in the power of education to transform people’s lives. At the moment I’m reading a book called “A Chance to Make History”. It’s written by Wendy Kopp the founder of the Teach For America project which placed good US graduates in disadvantaged American schools. The results that these young teachers achieved proved that it is possible for schools to help pupils of all ages to overcome the most appalling backgrounds and become successful adults. A number of the Teach for America teachers went on to form very successful networks of schools that achieved high standards of achievement in very poor neighborhoods.
I like snappy terms that encapsulate aspirations. I found a great example in this book; “Infinity [school] has what its staff calls a “resiliency curriculum” through which traits like self-confidence, hope, gratitude, grit, and zest are taught, discussed, and tracked. Teachers work together to understand each student’s circumstances, strengths, and developmental areas and collaborate to ensure each student has the support, resources, and motivation to succeed.”
All of the meetings that I've had today have been moving us towards creating our own ‘resiliency curriculum’ and the environment in which it can be nurtured. There will always be battles to be won so it’s important to take each victory as it comes. Today we won a small victory in the battle for punctuality, which opened up time for taking on the bigger challenges.
If I was less tired I’d top the day off by going out to watch the thunder and lightning show that is happening outside. Instead I think I’ll head for bed. I don’t want to be late in the morning.