For the last 12 years, High Tech High schools, located in San Diego, California, have propelled students out into the real world through an academic internship immersion that takes place in the 11th grade. During this three or four week period, depending on the HTH school, students utilize the 21st century learning skills that they have developed and nurtured throughout grades ninth and tenth (skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking) in a variety of work environments, including non profit, government, education, and small business. Their learning goes far beyond what would be expected. Read more »
“As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”
-George Walker Bush, Washington D.C., 2007
The signature domestic policy of the GW Bush Administration is often cited to be the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. In 2004, just three years after it was signed into law, then U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige proclaimed, “The No Child Left Behind Act is working now and some point in time we’re going to look back at this point in time and see that we turned the corner educationally.” By 2008, however, Republicans had voiced their opinion with a deafening silence; making no mention of NCLB in their 2008 policy statement, Defending Our Nation, and, in fact, rejecting NCLB’s “one-size-fits-all approach.”
It is this “one-size-fits-all approach” that becomes the subject of Diane Ravitch’s painstaking process to skeptically analyze her own belief systems regarding education as she plunged head-on into what she thought was a structural innovation through reinvention and reformation of America’s educational system. What she found, as explained in her new book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education is that NCLB masked a concerted effort by conservatives to continue the rallying cry for accountability and parental choice, and by big business drawn to what they saw as just another “market reform;” what Ravitch feels is, in fact, a misguided attempt by new corporate reformers to define solutions for problems in public education utilizing accepted business strategies. According to Ravitch, “The more uneasy I grew with the agenda of choice and accountability, the more I realized that I am too ‘conservative’ to embrace an agenda whose end result is entirely speculative and uncertain. The effort to upend American public education and replace it with something market-based began to feel too radical for me.” It is this uneasiness that, ultimately, propels Ravitch to honor her gut and her intellectual wanderings by taking out well-worn weapons of mass destruction – the pen and paper. Read more »
For the last three weeks, I have sat behind the small ticket counter at OnStage Playhouse…listening. Listening to hammers, listening to the click clack of shoes on a seasoned stage, listening to pages rustling between fingers and, most importantly, listening to voices speaking the words of those left behind by time – channeled through the cast of The Diary of Anne Frank. Of course, the words crafted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, and adapted for the stage by Wendy Kesselman, are powerful on their own. But, this production is different.
Yes, the power of Lucia Vecchio’s performance of Anne is sure to leave most theater-goers with red eyes and runny noses. Yes, the subtle complexity of the towering Sven Salumaa’s portrayal of Otto Frank will leave audience members scrambling for speech. These things are a given. The power of this intimate, expertly casted and staged performance lies in the earnest eyes of the seventeen and eighteen-year-olds that are working dramaturge and sound, who are researching props and back story, who are writing rehearsal reports and sending emails to cast and crew. The power of this interpretation of The Diary of Anne Frank lies in the Interns.
It was a ballsy move for Artistic Director Teri Brown and Director Kym Pappas to experiment with the already established internship program. It is paying off in ways, I don’t even think, they could have imagined. The original idea was to take the current internship program and add an even deeper layer of exploration by pairing each intern with a theater professional in order to create a depth of understanding of the process and production of a stage play. That they chose it to be Anne Frank is almost ironic in light of the recent social movement hailed as “Occupy.” What they have allowed the interns to experience is a way of being in the world as seen through the eyes of a thirteen year-old who dreamed of a future, planned for forever, and spoke poignant words in the silence of her own thoughts.
I cannot disregard the juxtaposition of the short but meaningful life of Anne Frank with the current lives of the interns who are in the “blossom” of their own youth, as she was. Anne interpreted the lives of adults and their reactions to the controversies and atrocities of her day much as the Interns do – through innocent hopeful eyes. In her own way, she made changes in her life and the lives of others simply by having a different vision of her tomorrow. But Anne had one thing that most youth do not have today – the simple solitude of reflection. She was able to think about her life, her circumstances, her expectations…and she wrote them down. Most of our young people today don’t have this luxury.
That’s why the Charles K. Nichols Internship Program at OnStage Playhouse, and its troupe made up of high school seniors and college freshman (Victoria Acosta, Gina Bernacett, Dempsey Davis, RJ Haines, Emilio Olsen, Julia Sola, and Tony Rivera) is so much more than just a performance. Through their research and immersion in Anne’s life, they are able to see their own world through Anne’s eyes…and work to never repeat it.
The Diary of Anne Frank runs from November 4 to December 4 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Avenue, Chula Vista. Ticket prices are $16.00 general admission.
We have inched slowly toward a fork in the road – just as the Donner party wagon trains moved slowly forward over the great plains of Iowa and Nebraska to the real fork in the road in Wyoming, shown above. When they stood at that pass and argued about whether to take the well worn trail around the great Salt Lake or take a new, unchartered one that might get them to California faster, they did not have the luxury of hindsight as we do now. They did not know what would await them in the months (and even years) to come. If they had known the incredible suffering that their poor decisions caused them, the deaths, the destruction of families, of reputations, of the fabric of their lives, they would have surely taken the steady route. Read more »
About four years ago, I had taken my oldest daughter to see a local production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I was obsessed by The Crucible in high school – thinking that the genius of Arthur Miller was his ability to craft a play grounded in history with profound commentary on the culture of his time. We sat in the car on the way back home talking about the play and its meaning and why it seems that, in our current times, no writers have mastered what Miller had done a half a century before. Suddenly, I posed the question to my daughter…if you were to write a play about issues today such as climate change, social injustice, and big government (remember Bush was still in office at the time), what story from history would she write about. She thought about it for a while and simply said, “The Donner Party.”
Little did I know that these three words would completely change my life. I remained quiet the rest of the way home, thinking about whether the story could be the basis of a new work of fiction. After that evening, I immediately requested everything I could on the Donner Party and read voraciously on the subject. I remembered being somewhat obsessed with the story as a child; focusing on the topic that quickly gets associated with the group of families who traveled west in 1846 – cannibilism. I remembered briefly passing through Donner Pass on my way to Reno on a high school trip. At 17, I fixated on the Donner Pass sign; feeling like I had some connection but no understanding of what that was. Read more »
In their work, Planning problems are wicked problems, H.J. Rittel and M.M. Webber (1984) lay out a framework for describing “the wicked problem.” Although developed from a social planning viewpoint, their framework has implications for those seeking to reform current educational structures and processes.
Wicked problems are essentially those that are too big to resolve and have no ready solutions. Rittel and Webber describe “wicked problems” in these terms:
- There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem (defining wicked problems is itself a wicked problem)
- Wicked problems have no stopping rule
- Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but better-or-worse
- There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem
- Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly
- Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan
- Every wicked problem is essentially unique
- Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem
- The existence of a discrepancy in representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution
- The planner has no right to be wrong (planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate) Read more »
Senior projects begin with an idea or interest. From there you identify where your talents and interests can take you and they evolve into a project that you don’t mind spending countless hours on. For my senior project, I wanted to work with younger kids and to get my peers excited about working with them as well. I did this by creating a program that connects high school students with younger ones within their afterschool program. This program is called Cross Connections.
I had my initial meeting with Gabe, the afterschool coordinator for our K-8 school, at the end of the previous school year. I began the planning process from there. After giving myself a month to organize what needed to be accomplished, I held two summer meetings with potential leaders. I determined that interested students would be distributed across activities such as academics, enrichment, sports, and kindergarten. Another component that needed to be developed was public relations, including the logo and documentation of the program through photos and video.
Anticipating that the program would be popular, we decided to be exclusive about our membership, at least initially. Students had a week to fill out the application and then we picked leadership positions and members. There were an overwhelming amount of applicants but, luckily, we were able to let in the majority of interested students. I developed a training for the students by creating a handbook so they would be familiar with expectations and protocols. Sixty students were admitted and completed the training. The next day, the Cross Connections students began working with over 300 younger students!