June 22, 2010

Debate-Great Maker

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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As I've mentioned before, I am a terrible person.

I'm selfish. Fairly impatient. When I get on a escalator behind people and those people just stand there like well-clothed bipedal cows instead of walking with the escalator, I find myself having to repress the urge to punch them in the buttocks.  Like I said. Just an all-around bad person.

Then again, maybe I'm not that bad. Maybe I've just had the good fortune to come into contact with some really good people who make me seem atrocious by comparison.
Raven L. Jones is just that kinda person.

I met Miss Jones while we were both students at Michigan State University. In the seven or so years since I last saw Raven, she's gone on to be a teacher at LifeSkills Center of Metropolitan Detroit - an alternative high school in downtown Detroit. And when they say "alternative" they mean this is the last chance at a public education for kids who have had behavioral, attendance or academic problems at other high schools. Plainly speaking, LifeSkills offers one of these kids last alternatives.

Many educators would write off the kinds of kids who are funneled into an alternative high school. Raven is not that kind of educator. Instead of writing these kids off, she -  along with fellow LifeSkills teacher Darryl Stanbrough -  encouraged them to focus their energy into formal debate competitions in 2008. Her encouragement was well-received and fruitful.

The students on her debate team have since competed both at the National Association for Urban Debate League's tournament in New York City and at Harvard University.

I've never had the temperament for teaching. But I do have a few ideas about what works best in that realm. I think if you make excuses for kids who come from difficult, less that ideal circumstances, those children will gladly settle into those lowered expectations.

Conversely, if you demand children make an attempt at success - regardless of the obstacles they inherited as a birthright - then they will rise to that standard.

Am I right?  After seeing what Raven and Darryl's efforts have wrought, I 'd say its undebatably.

*More on the LifeSkills debate team:

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is pretty dope, Noah. Thank you for the opportunity.

Now, I understand that sun(light) represents more than just the day time, but it casts shadows on and reflects inner and outter beauty.

Keep doin you!!!