"The decision to have a child is both a private and a public decision, for children are our collective future."
-Sylvia Ann Hewitt (20th century) economist.
A few days ago, our district held an orientation for incoming seventh graders. Students got to meet their teachers, locate rooms, practice opening their lockers, and learn the details of a new folder system intended to help them stay organized. The program was designed to alleviate some of the stress associated with changing from an elementary to a middle school environment. Judging by the smiles at the concluding ice cream party, it was successful.
It wasn't just the kids who benefited. I got to observe my students in a relaxed setting and take a quick measure of the group dynamics. More importantly, I was reminded why I was reading, blogging, exploring: not just for my own professional development but to enrich their learning experiences and help them become more information literate.
Virginia Gildersleeve, Dean Emeritus, Barnard College, listed the qualities that these conservators of our collective future will need:
"The ability to think straight, some knowledge of the past, some vision of the future, some skill to do useful service, some urge to fit that service into the well-being of the community—these are the most vital things education must try to produce."