out of school into schools

tonight i attended the launch party for EVC's curriculum titled: Youth-Powered Video: A Hands-on Curriculum for Teaching Documentary. the event was held at the midtown offices of listenup! - which, btw, is a wonderful and open space - and there were a variety of folks there including reps from EVC and listenup! and also the MediaRights org (which brings you the annual media that matters festivals). there were also several young people there, some of whom were featured in the clips that were shown which illustrated, a la case study format, the process of Documentary Workshop (one of the workshop strands at EVC).

once the clips were shown and a few of the staff offered explanations, one young man stood at the front of the room and talked about his experiences as an evc-alum. among the things he said (that i wrote down while jotting furiously) was (paraphrasing) that evc was a place where he could go and have something to show for the (extensive) time he spent there.

this made me think, again, about the hours spent sitting in desks... that are in rows... that are falling apart... with uncomfortable chairs... in which kids sit for hours... constructed as passive listeners... and prepped for tests... that many will not be prepared to pass... which will result in them being held back a grade... which will then result in many kids dropping out of school... which is often a place where kids go and have nothing to show for all the time spent sitting, listening, and being evaluated.

there's more to learn from the out of school worlds that youth seek out, but i wonder if in school spaces are ready to consider that wisdom... which includes, but is not limited to:
- co-constructed goals
- offering multiple spaces for young people to inhabit and perform multiple selves
- use of a variety of modalities
- ample opportunities to play, imagine, and express creativity
- relationships between adults and young people that are not entrenched in staid dynamics of power and authority, more characterized by with

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