Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A whole lotta learning going on...

Teaching someone something often enlightens the teacher as well. And the younger the learner, the more the (usually older) teacher can learn. Kids' minds are elastic things; they can make connections between two seemingly disparate things and, in the process, open adults' minds to new possibilities.

The New York Times had an article today on students from the Harlem Success Academy who went on a field trip to a farm. On the face of it, that does not seem all that extraordinary.

What is different is the point of the field trip - to help the children get better test scores. Teachers at the Harlem charter school looked at the state exams and realized their students weren't doing well on some questions that involved rural life. So they decided to take the children, starting at age 3, to a farm so they could learn about cornstalks and where eggs come from.

Those children will no doubt turn out to be more well-rounded than if they did not make that visit. They may even inspire adults the way Rachel Scott did.

Scott was one of the students killed during the Columbine tragedy in 1999. Six weeks before she died, Scott wrote an essay on how one act of kindness can make an impact in someone's life, according to the News-Gazette. After her death, that essay prompted her father to start Rachel's Challenge, a program for area schools that invites the students to create a more positive environment by doing things like talking to students outside their "group" or helping a new student adjust to the school.

And finally, adults can learn something from students simply by studying them. MIT's Sloan School of Management published a news release, picked up by the Boston Globe, on a study of courtship habits. Assistant Professor Joshua Ackerman concluded a "tag team" approach to dating can improve success. He demonstrated partnerships of both the same sex and the opposite sex have a similar success rate. If you click through to the actual release, Ackerman's findings are both illustrative and amusing. : )

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