By Guest Blogger Terry K. Peterson
William S. White, the Chairman of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation passed away on October 9, 2019. Bill was a monumental leader in the world of philanthropy. Working with many of you as well as many other foundations and organizations, he and the Mott Foundation have had and are continuing to have a tremendous positive impact on the afterschool and community learning center movement.
Collaborating with many partners, Bill and the C.S. Mott Foundation are helping us achieve big systems change with field engagement as an important part of the work. So, our work today is both top-down and bottom-up. As a result, there is a growing infrastructure on which to build. Several critical pillars of this infrastructure include:
• The formation and enhancement of the nationwide Afterschool Alliance. Across America in this diverse and very decentralized field, the Alliance is connecting many groups with similar agendas ranging from those in education and youth development to community and cultural groups and from scientific, law enforcement groups to faith-based groups.
• Building State Afterschool Networks. Starting with 8 state networks in 2002, we now have networks in 50 states. They and their allies inform and educate their state and local leaders about the potential and best practices of afterschool and summer learning and community schools. They encourage partnerships and more expanded learning opportunities to help solve a number of contemporary education and community issues.
• Supporting research and sharing of best practices. This growing body of findings is critical to continually identify what is working well and to make needed improvements. Also, the wide dissemination of the positive impacts is very important for both leaders and practitioners.
• The initial rapid growth and continual strengthening of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). Today, this bipartisan initiative is in every state and administered by the state, but is federally funded. With a $1.4 billion current federal appropriation, the 21st CCLCs serve almost 2 million students and families and are in almost 13,000 schools and communities.
Together with this crucial infrastructure, Bill White’s style and insights also leave us an important legacy for all of us in this field to emulate. Leaders from across America and the world recently described Bill in just a few words. A video of these powerful statements was presented during an award ceremony honoring Bill at the annual meeting of the Michigan Council of Foundations; he passed away a day later. These powerful descriptors about Bill are terrific guides for our work: "Thought leader… on the ground and at the very top”; “Listener”; “Big Thinker”; “Willingness to take a risk”; “Persistent in seeing it through”; and “Staying power and loyalty to the work.”
Let me set the stage. In 1997, several bi-partisan leaders in the Congress and the Clinton Administration were looking for ways to fill the hours of 3-6 PM after school and summers with positive, safe, learning experiences. Right after a huge conference on this topic in October, 1997, on the White House lawn, Bill White casually came over to U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley and me (as then Counselor to the US Secretary). Within minutes and a handshake, we launched a tremendous and continuing partnership with the CS Mott Foundation to rapidly grow the 21st CCLCs from 7 sites to 10,000 sites within just five years. During that handshake, Bill’s instant multi-year, multimillion-dollar commitment was essential to launch this initiative and a massive effort to quickly go to scale.
The large and quick “scaling up” was successful because it captured another one of Bill’s other insights: “being a thought leader on the ground and at the very top.” From the beginning, the rollout of the 21st CCLC engaged hundreds of local people in planning, training and workshops. As the funding expanded, this quickly became thousands involved, and now in 2019 there are tens of thousands engaged in community learning centers and afterschool. Bill White and the Mott Foundation supported this rapid growth of the field every step of the way, and this continues today to both strengthen the field and the 21st CCLCs.
Another component of this initial rollout is very instructive, too. To increase the quality of the grant applications and expand access, the Mott Foundation helped support every state to hold bidder’s conferences that engaged those interested in locally funded afterschool and community education programs. This crucial action also brought many new players to the table. This generated applications for these new federal grants that far exceeded the funding that was available. This high demand “on the ground” in each state helped Congress and many Administrations to understand the bi-partisan value for increasing funding “at the very top” for afterschool, community-school partnerships and the 21st CCLCs.
Building on These Pillars and Bill’s Style
The commitment to community-school partnerships with family engagement was started by C. S. Mott in Flint in the 1930’s, continued and expanded by Bill White; and now is being brought into the next decade by Ridgway White. From my vantage point, this commitment and core guiding principles have stayed consistent for literally decades, while always looking to the future.
These principles, our infrastructure, and Bill’s powerful legacy are a call for all of us to do much more to improve. I hope you will join-in on building on them by:
• Relentlessly keep working for children, youth and their families.
• Engaging the community in the work.
• Remembering the power of school-family community partnerships.
• Helping local people realize their dreams and potential.
• Thinking big and being persistent.
About Terry Peterson: Terry was the Chief Counselor for former US Secretary of Education and Governor, Dick Riley. During his decades-long tenure in public service, Terry held senior state- and federal-level positions in which he developed numerous education policies and funding streams, including at the U.S. Department of Education where he helped create the 21st CCLC initiative. Terry currently serves on the board of the Afterschool Alliance and is also the executive editor of, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning. He is also featured in the History of Afterschool in America documentary.
By: Sam Piha
We used to think that emotions were separate from learning. We now know that both engagement and learning are deeply emotional and that young people's emotions drive their learning. Thanks to research, we also know that young people's culture and personal experience are important to learning.
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is a former classroom science teacher, who taught at a racially diverse school outside Boston. She is now a researcher at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. She focuses on psychology, neuroscience and education, and is known internationally for her research on the critical role that emotion plays in learning. She recently published a new book entitled, Emotions, Learning and the Brain.
In partnership with LA’s BEST and THINK Together, we invited Dr. Immordino-Yang to share her thoughts at a Speaker’s Forum in Los Angeles (November 22, 2019) regarding her research and implications for learning in afterschool.
Below we share a few quotes from her and also some resources if people would like to learn more.
ABOUT EMOTION AND LEARNING:
People think of emotion getting in the way of cognition, but it doesn’t. Emotion steers our thinking; it’s the rudder that directs our mind and organizes what we do and think about.” (1)
ABOUT HOW HER RESEARCH WOULD CHANGE HER CLASSROOM TEACHING:
When I was teaching, I was struck by the differences in the ways kids came to the science I was teaching, but I didn’t really have good tools for managing that diversity or capitalizing on that strength in the classroom. Our current work highlights the really fundamental ways that culture shapes how a person makes meaning of the things they’re learning. If I were teaching now, I would try to find more ways to let kids own their curriculum and own their learning. I would focus even more on the sorts of project-based, community-oriented activities that really engage kids from the starting point of their own self and their own communities. I see teaching now as a process of facilitating kids building new understandings of their worlds, less than as a process of imparting information. I would see myself as much as a learner as the teacher." (5)
ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF HER RESEARCH FOR URBAN KIDS:
And currently our education system does not take into account and does not allow for, or encourage, a culturally diverse way of making sense of, understanding, and thinking about the world ... Urban kids are really in the thick of it – they need to build resilience and a strong acculturated sense of identity. So this kind of research is key to helping us improve education and to getting rid of the achievement gap. We simply must stop wasting the potential among urban kids, so many of whom are not educated in ways that connect to their real lives and strengths." (6)
ABOUT MARY HELEN IMMORDINO-YANG: She is a Professor of Education, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, and a former urban public junior high-school science teacher. She studies the psychological and neurobiological development of emotion and self-awareness, and connections to social, cognitive and moral development in educational settings. Her work has a special focus on adolescents from low-SES communities, and she involves youths from these communities as junior scientists in her work. Dr. Immordino-Yang has received numerous awards for her research and for her impact on education and society.
By Sam Piha
There is an inscription over a public school in northern Washington state that reads “Waste Not Thy Hour”. It reminds me of how young people’s play is often regarded as a waste. For many, play is the antithesis of learning time, however, there is growing evidence that there is a great deal of learning in play.
In an age of standardized testing and intense academic competition, it’s easy to believe that play is one more thing American children will have to do without. But free play encourages the development of the two skills that no robot can replace: creativity and teamwork. -The Secret Power of Play; Bethan Mooney for TIME (1)
Now is the time to reexamine the value of play, educate our stakeholders, and be unashamed to make play an important part of our afterschool programs. In this post we open the door to this reexamination by offering some information and definitions of terms you may find as you read about play. In a later blog post on play, we offer some additional information and resources to encourage a reexamination of play.
Many afterschool programs prioritize an extension of academics and homework completion over organized play, free play, and physical activity. - The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (2)
The Move AWAY From Play
Over the years, there has been a pronounced reduction in the time that children spend in play. According to the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (3), this is due to several factors:
There are many terms that one encounters when exploring the issues of play. Below are some definitions that may be helpful.
Characteristics of play (4)
Unstructured play is open-ended play that has no specific learning objective. Unstructured play is often informally referred to as simply "letting kids be kids" or "just play." At times, you may also hear it called "free play" or “self-play."(5)
Unstructured play doesn't usually have any rules or instructions, and the possibilities tend to be unlimited! (6)
Free play is unstructured, voluntary, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them. It is the spontaneous play that comes naturally from children's natural curiosity, love of discovery, and enthusiasm. (7)
Structured play is any type of activity that has a set of rules or instructions with a goal. For example, most games, puzzles, construction toys and organized sports are structured activities (8)
Organized play is ordered, overseen by rules, and managed or directed by another person. (9)
By Guest Blogger Jason Wyman
The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has been convening and organizing an intergenerational network of youth media practitioners for over 20 years, and in 2019 we are more uncertain than ever what exactly youth media actually is. We've spoken with Youth Filmmakers, Teen Librarians, Teaching Artists, Museum Educators, Executive Directors, Musicians, Youth Organizers, Public School Teachers, Poets and Storytellers and each one has a different understanding of what makes and is youth media. It's beautifully messy and complex. Join The Alliance in an engaging conversation and inquiry into what exactly is youth media on Friday, October 25. Share your voice and shift your perspective.
ABOUT MEDIA LITERACY WEEK
Inspired by Canada’s Media Literacy Week, the 5th annual U.S. Media Literacy Week, October 21-25, 2019, is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The mission is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education all across the country. Each U.S. Media Literacy Week event calls attention to media literacy education by bringing together hundreds of partners for events and activities around the country.
Whether you are an individual teacher, an employee at an organization, or a researcher, you can get involved with Media Literacy Week by hosting a media literacy event or activity between October 21 and 25. It’s up to you to decide what, when, where, and how you want to execute your Media Literacy Week plans, but NAMLE has put together a list of resources if you need help getting started.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE
The Alliance Youth Media Network convenes, connects, nurtures and sustains strategic development in the broad Youth Media field. We support innovative and emerging models of practice within the fields of youth media, creative youth development, and media literacy. We do this through the collaborative production of a youth media magazine, ongoing Collective Action work, hosting national Video Roundtable conversations, designing and producing youth media conference content with global partners, and through the leadership of an international network of youth media organizations.
All of the programs of our Youth Media Initiative use an intergenerational, co-creative approach as a means to demonstrate the possibilities and impact of a range of youth and elders working collaboratively and inclusively, interrogating power and privilege across program areas. To learn more click here.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.