Most schools aren’t preparing adults or kids for the unprecedented demands of our time. The Fall 2009 issue of YES! Magazine brings you stories of people who are taking education into their own hands and creating opportunities for themselves and others to learn to solve problems in their communities.
Ready to take charge of your own education, learn new skills, reinvent yourself, and change the world around you? The following list of organizations and books point you in the direction of change and new ways of learning for you, your community, and your children.
The Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project of Seattle, WA is a volunteer, non-profit effort to encourage jailed Seattle teens to write poetry and prose as a way of healing from troubling life circumstances. Pongo annually publishes an anthology of their work. These collections are available to preview and order on their website.
CO-SEED, a program of Antioch University, is place-based education initiative that encourages students, educators, and families to learn how to address local needs while using community resources and the natural environment as a place of study.
Detroit Summer is a multiracial, intergenerational collective in Detroit, working to transform themselves and their communities by confronting the problems they face with creativity and critical thinking. They currently organize youth-led media arts projects and community-wide potlucks, speak-outs, and parties.
The School Project, created by Project Happiness, is a program for public and private schools, community groups, families, and people interested in creating greater happiness in their lives. Project Happiness views individual well-being and peace as fundamental to worthwhile learning.
The Guilford Central School in Vermont develops alternative education strategies based on the belief that service learning is the base from which school experiences should extend. They provide the documented work of teachers and students that show the significant impact service learning has had on their school.
The Academy for the Love of Learning of Santa Fe, New Mexico is a non-profit educational institution that provides programs, conferences, organizational practices, and research.
The Odysseus Group of New York provides information and resources for individuals who would like to involve themselves in a discussion dedicated to educational reform.
The Home School Mom provides information and resources for those who home school their children and for those who would like to get started.
Alternative Education Resource Organization is an international program that helps people find alternative education opportunities that focus on the individual learner. They also assist educators in locating schools that follow a learner-centered approach and provide support to grassroots organizations and groups to create new schools.
The Nation Classroom provides free weekly teaching guides for college and high school educators seeking ways to encourage a healthy diversity of opinion while instilling in students the confidence to express themselves freely. Their website provides learning guides for teachers and students.
The National Association for Multicultural Education offers conferences, support, and resources that encourage a national and international discussion on multicultural education. Their website provides resources for the development of effective programs and teaching methods that promote an understanding and appreciation for diversity among students, school faculty, and staff.
World Prosperity is a nonprofit organization that teaches people how to make educational movies easily and cheaply. Their goal is to determine how to make social systems such as education, health care, government, and families work more effectively.
The Center for Courage and Renewal, founded by Parker Palmer, provides programs, retreats, and resources that help people reconnect who they are with what they do as professionals. Their services are designed for those in the fields of health care, theology, law, and especially education.
Center for Ecoliteracy is an initiative that provides seminars, resources, and conferences dedicated to supporting K-12 educators, parents, and community members who help young people gain the knowledge, skills, and values essential to sustainable living.
Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility assists educators in the exploration and development of new learning approaches. Their programs, resources, and links guide teachers through ways to build student skills in anger management, assertiveness, and nonviolent conflict resolution.
Teaching Tolerance provides the tools needed for parents, educators, and students to reduce prejudices and personal biases. Their goal is to support an equitable school experience for all youth and to promote tolerance as a moral principle.
Facing History and Ourselves encourages educators to teach civic responsibility, tolerance, and social action in our school systems. The resources they provide can be used to help lead youth into action.
The Academy for Educational Development is a nonprofit organization working globally to improve education, health, civil society, and economic development—the foundation of thriving societies.
Wiretap Magazine is an independent news and culture web magazine that generates and amplifies daily content by young people from diverse backgrounds. They mentor and train young journalists, citizen reporters, and bloggers and provide a daily platform for young activists, social entrepreneurs, and artists from across the country.
Rethinking Schools publishes a quarterly magazine as well as a variety of books that discuss critical issues in education reform.
The New Global Student by Maya Frost (Three Rivers Press, 2009) is a book for college bound students that teaches how to find inexpensive educational programs that match their interests while avoiding standardized tests such as the SATs.
Educating for a Culture of Peace, edited by Riane Eisler and Ron Miller (Heinemann, 2004) is composed of essays written by educators. Thebook discusses the importance of teaching the skills and knowledge students need to both live peacefully in the world and promote peace through their actions. The collection includes ideas for creating instructional practices as well as stories dealing with issues that teachers encounter every day.
Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities by David Sobel (The Orion Society, 2004) offers an in-depth insight on the educational transformation that occurs when youth become active and engaged citizens within their community and local ecology.
Earth in Mind by David W. Orr (Island Press, 1994) presents the logic behind the need for schools to educate from an ecological perspective. Orr explains the idea of ecological intelligence while discussing problems within education from an environmental and social stance. He provides comprehensive proposals to reorganize educational curriculum into ways that awaken our passion for life.
Caring for New Life by Ron Miller (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000)) explores effective alternatives to conventional education. The book is a collection of essays that focus on the theory behind holistic teaching while discussing how students gain in both creativity and insight.
The Line Between US by Bill Bigelow (Rethinking Schools, Ltd., 2006) explains the social conflict between economic, political, and racial groups within the United States and how it interferes with student learning. Orr encourages readers to consider how common misguided perceptions of ‘others’ create an environment of intolerance within schools and the need to create student understanding of immigration experiences and the realities of U.S.-Mexican border crossing.
Teaching Green edited by Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn (New Society Publishers, 2009) offers an alternative approach to education which focuses on student understanding of sustainability. Grant and Littlejohn propose ways to develop critical thinking on issues facing student’s local, as well as global, environment.