Monday, December 26, 2005

Mentoring Young Women Bloggers

Beth Kanter posted information about an interesting youth mentoring opportunity on the www.netsquared.org blog recently. They are looking for bloggers from around the world to be blogging mentors for 1 week as part of the Young Caucasus Women project, a group blog for young women from the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia). If you are interested, here is the original post from www.registan.net.

Last night we watched Mad Hot Ballroom, one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Its all about a ballroom dancing program in the New York City public schools and it makes a terrific case for the importance of arts education. Having worked at Streetside Stories for such a long time and seen how powerful it is for young people to write, tell and create autobiographical stories, it was interesting to see how a different medium has the same effect on young people: increased confidence, engagement in school and joy.

Many of the young people who participate in the dance classes in Mad Hot Ballroom, and in Streetside Stories' workshops, are young people of color from low-income families who may not have an opportunity to go to any arts programing outside of school, and definitely not during school, where most arts programming has been cut.

It is so important that all young people have an equal opportunity for a good education, but equal doesn't mean the SAME, which is what California is trying to do now with its public schools, at least in the Bay Area, make all of the curriculum the same, which doesn't make any sense. All people don't grow the same way.

Think about those little plastic sticks that come with plants when you buy them that say that the plant needs sun, shade or half sun/half shade. It also tells you how much water they need, what time of year to plant them, how deep to plant them, what their flowers will look like, how long they will live, if they will re-seed, etc. Do the people making decisions about education at the state and national level really believe that all young people need the same things?

It makes me think of how small farms that used to rotate their crops and let parts of their fields lie fallow for a season have been taken over by big ole corporations that plant one crop over and over again and spray it with lots of pesticides till the soil is dead.

With public schools' large class size and recommended rote teaching standards, are we nurturing our young people in the same way?

I guess that is what interests me about the Young Caucasus Women project, the opportunity for equal access and training to what I consider to be an artistic opportunity.




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