Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pact Inspires Young and Old

One of our teachers told me about a movie she was showing and discussing in her class called The Pact. It's a movie about three kids who live in the inner city world of drugs, thugs, and poverty who make a promise to each other that they would go to college and become doctors.

Sound far-fetched?

It's a true story of Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. (You can read more about them at their website, HERE.)

Because the boys had intelligence going for them, they tested into University High where they got into trouble and did as little schoolwork as possible, until they heard a presentation by a representative from Seton Hall.

It is extraordinary that three boys from such dire circumstances could have the tenacity and courage to see their goals to the end. In the epilogue of their book, they share points that are applicable to many of us in situations where we are working towards a goal. I want to share them with you here:

  • Join trustworthy friends who have the same goal.
  • Find strength in your differences. Friends don't have to be alike to be a part of a pact.
  • Believe in yourself and your friends.
  • Compete in a healthy way. We learned from one anther and leaned on one another's strengths.
  • Communicate openly, honestly, and often.
  • Lean on your friends and allow them to lean on you. One of the main benefits of forming a pact with friends is that you have an automatic network of support.
These ideas are not new. Through experience, we know that accountability is important. We know that support systems are important. We forget that we can create for ourselves a situation that gives us both. And we have to help kids to understand that they are empowered the same way.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Work Ethic and Today's Teens

One of my former students came by my office to see me today. She was in my biology class two years ago, and she'll come by and tell me how she's doing in chemistry and life in general. Today she came by to tell me about a speech she had given at a conference she goes to each year. For the speech, she created an acronym for WORK.

W - Willingness 

O - Opportunity 

R - Reward 

K - Kindness

She had prepared and given a speech centered around work. And she came in third place in the conference! Wow!

Her speech topic got me thinking about the teenagers that are in our schools today. We notice a different work ethic with them. Do they have work ethic? Is it just expressed differently? Where does work ethic come from? How do you teach it?

Generation Z - born around 1990 to 2001, the students of today - have been accused of being lazy. The online communicators. The multi-taskers.

Click here to read what Huffington Post wrote about Generation Z.

Many articles about working with Generations Y and Z can be found on the Internet. Here's one by Kelly Services, and click here to read one by Reliable Plant. All the business articles have a common theme... how to work WITH them.

In terms of school.... school still looks a lot like school did before the Baby Boomer generation. What are we doing as educators to work with students on their work ethic? As Geneva Gay writes in Culturally Responsive Teaching, Success does not emerge out of failure, weakness does not generate strength.

How do we teach kids not to fail at work ethic? How do we teach them what it is and how to get it? I like how KLO Middle School designed a work ethic rubric to be used in each class. Is it possible to use something like this at the high school level?

Who taught you work ethic, and how can we teach Generation Z?