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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 1.20.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder Real-World Learning Conference - A bunch of minds with a single thought – Acting Our Way to Thinking and Thinking Our Way to Acting After the Big Picture Leadership Conference Anthonette and I got together and unbeknownst to either of us beforehand, we had the same thought about doing a gathering for B-Unbound. A week later, Anthonette is talking with David, Wilson and Lexi and they presented the idea of all of us doing an annual Real World Learning conference (RWL). To our knowledge, no one is doing this as the sole event. The reasoning is without something like a RWL Conference how do we take what we feel is vitally important and gather as a group nationally to gain exposure and clout. At our Wednesday Meeting, Anthonette and I brought the RWL conference up to the group and immediately the wheels started spinning about how to do it, where to do it and how to get funding for the first one to jump start an annual conference. During the meeting, I reminded everyone that we did something similar at a smaller scale over ten years ago when we ran three D0-Think-Do Symposiums around Making, Re-Branding Vov Ed and The Hand. All of these had white papers done after the gatherings. They were embedded in places like Maker Fairs and The Henry Ford. They brought together youth and adults who had similar interests from diverse backgrounds and places from all over the country. I’ll attach some PowerPoints from the symposium but to give everyone a peek, below are some of the images from the visual storytelling we did. Also, we did symposiums around Outside of School Youth (OSY) and Eating Smart, Playing Smart, and Being Smart that arguably set the stage for many of the initiatives now in play. Many of the people in Upstream Collaborative and the BPL Indigenous Initiative were at OSY meetings. I say this because this real-world learning gathering or whatever we will call it is coming at a great time. There are challenges from researchers that once again say this can’t be done at scale and that classroom instruction is better than being out in the world where you get a sense and feel for work. But, there is also a growing body of evidence from researchers about the role work plays in developing meaning and purpose in your life if, you like what you are doing. Bring on the debate! To this end, a Washington Post article, The Happiest, Most Meaningful, Least Stressful Jobs in America lists jobs and their measures of happiness, meaning and stress. We should be using these measures as well to analyze the different reasons why some jobs are low and high and how to make the matches better for youth. Also, this just in from Forbes about the benefit of getting middle schoolers out in the real world. And, to go along with the Forbes article, Charlie has a great deal going on in South Carolina. We were on a call with Crishell bass to start a Harbor Freight fellows Explorers Middle School program in Lake City to be followed up in Greenville and Charleston.

In addition this article keeps schools presently in the past, Career-Readiness Initiatives Are Missing the Mark - Instead of focusing on generic soft skills and internships, students need work-integrated classroom learning and pathways for building career readiness. Classroom based learning and pathways this way will continue to miss the mark These recommendations around minimizing or eliminating Real-World Learning gives us more than enough reason to meet as a RWL community and counter this argument.. Here’s my quick take on Chatbot for this week and the reaction of school districts like NYC banning it’s use. Arthur C. Clarke had it right - “Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be!” Get personal and make yourself indispensable. No machine can do what a person can do. Know your students well. Be Well!

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