TED Conversations

Kamren Kubesh

Organizer @ TEDxUMN, Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A.


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Can education utilize the "community issues" as learning experiences through problem solving, while simultaneously providing a service?

This question is pulled from a concept I have been struggling with in higher education. I have been trying to develop strategies to solve this divide between the education and local communities. There are many real-world experiences that could be taken advantage of by educators and students by providing a service to the community.

Do you have any examples, ideas, or thoughts?

More recently I found some text in a book called Pattern Language, where there is a small mention of how some are placing the public and education together. I by not means support the ideas/events mentioned, but use it as a conversation starter. Text stated below:

Network of Learning
"Carnegie Commission reports, the last year has brought forth a series of important documents which show that responsible people are becoming aware of the fact that schooling for certification cannot continue to be counted upon as the central educational device of a modern society. Julius Nyere of Tanzania has announced plans to integrate education with the life of the village. In Canada, the Wright Commission on post0-secondary education reported that no known system of formal education could provide equal opportunities for the citizens of Ontario. The president of Peru has accepted the recommendation of his commission on education, which proposes to abolish free schools in favor of free educational opportunities provided throughout life. In fact he is reported to have insisted that this program proceed slowly at first in order to keep teachers in school and out of the way of true educators."


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    Apr 8 2014: Hi Kamren,
    Yes indeed...formal education CAN utilize community issues as learning experiences through problem solving, while simultaneously providing a service, and they are doing so....at least in some places.

    There have been times in our local high school, when certain teachers require attendance and participation in town meetings as part of the class. Years ago, there was an archeological dig in the area (a native American site), and a teacher contacted the authorities for the opportunity to get his 5 and 6 grade classes involved. There are several high schools in the area that require a certain amount of community service, and there are "work study" programs in most colleges and universities.

    There are lots of creative ways to connect school and community. One teacher in the high school here, asked students to interview elderly people in the community and ask how it was to live 80-90 years ago...how was it to live through the flood of 1927...how did you survive? How was it to live through the depression? What are the differences between now and then?

    It was a great opportunity for teens to connect with older people in the community. The older people liked telling their stories, the kids taped the interviews and did a report for the class.

    You probably know, one can get college credit and degrees based on life experiences. I also had the pleasure of guest lecturing at the university through the sociology dept. for years, so it is apparent, that they are inviting people with life experience into the formal learning environment. I think it IS happening, and I think it is a great opportunity for all of us to teach and learn:>)

    As mentioned already in this conversation....these kinds of experiences and opportunities often take place outside the classroom, so it is important for teachers to be comfortable with the process in order to effectively integrate community interests with formal education. It might require a little "adjustment" for some educators:>)

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