Can You Teach Kids that Learning is Cool? Gates Foundation Betting on It!
At the school district I live in, I am told that the coolest kids in Middle School are the ones who are perceived as the smartest. Not the athletes. Not the beautiful crowd. This was not the Middle School that I attended. Now Bill and Melinda Gates are betting that, through the magic and $ of the Gates Foundation, they can teach kids that learning is cool! More power to them! This is how they are doing it:
“With $1.1 million this year from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to Memphis City Schools, Efficacy plans to train several hundred “student envoys” responsible for preaching the gospel of discipline and self-esteem, and delivering the message that smart isn’t by chance.”
and also by…
“With $90 million from the Gates Foundation, the district is trying to improve the learning climate in several ways, including beefing up teacher skill and nearly six-figure salaries.
In a 2009 survey, 61.9 percent of children at Douglass Elementary said they concentrate in class, but when responses from all students in the northeast region are added in, the number plummets to 37.1 percent.
“If you think about it, there is a culture of failure in a lot of urban systems,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, school board member.
“By the time students get to middle school and high school, being smart isn’t cool anymore. We need to stay in the educational game, keep the enthusiasm for learning all through life, including middle school and high school.
“It is going to definitely help student achievement.”
In a second-story classroom, with a wall fan buzzing in the background, middle school students in T-shirts reading “Ask Me How to Get Smart” talk about how hard it is to stay in the game when you see yourself as “sorta smart” (SS) or “kinda dumb” (KD) but not “very smart” (VS), Efficacy’s key categories.
“If you believe you can get smart, then you can move up,” said Mary Makee, 13, grasping the language and the logic.
“But you have to have confidence that you can do it.”
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