Learning By Doing

Today was an awesome day at school as we finally brought in an outside expert related to one of the projects that a student is working on. Christian, who represents Mejor Santa Tere, came to discuss the amazing work he is doing in the neighborhood of Santa Tere.  As an anthropologist, I thought his methods were awesome and learned so much from just talking with him about how he “studied” the neighborhood.  To study the neighborhood, Christian had the children that lived there and take pictures of what they liked and disliked about the neighborhood.  In addition, he had the children go around and conduct interviews with people about why they thought their community park was important and want they would like from their community park.  After doing this and other work, Christian and his team analyzed the data and used it to design a community based program based on the needs of the neighborhood as researched by the students.  Everything about this project amazes me, from its grassroots nature to the dedicated work put in by the kids of the community.  My favorite part of the whole day was when Christian and I had to pull some students from class.  When I told Christian the students needed to finish taking notes before they could talk with him he laughed and said something to the effect of, “School, I forgot what it is like. After all of my studying to do well I realized I didn’t need to study, I just needed to learn from experience, to get out there and make my own mistakes.”  It was awesome to hear this as well as see how Christian was applying the sociological theory that he learned in college to a real grassroots effort right here in our own neighborhood. The best part is that my students are now learning from an expert, who learned from trial and error. I am no longer the only source of information and they have pulled themselves from the land of internet research to talk to experts on the ground who are active in the things they are passionate about!

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