Friday, March 7, 2014


I feel proud of the group today. I told them that this morning, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you why.

If you've had our conference, you have heard me explain that we are embarking on a set of projects that will culminate our Cities unit. The kids are working with the same partner with whom they read their Cities novel (Girl with a Pearl Earring, City of Silver, etc). I identified six institutions and/or organizations in Detroit with whom SK might usefully collaborate. The kids researched these groups and, in pairs, sent me lengthy e-mails explaining which ones they were most interested in, and why. Yesterday I matched them up.

Nico and Jianmarco: Kidpreneur.
Trent and Aristea: Earthworks Urban Farm.
Isobel and Mike: Avalon Breads.
Denali and Jonathan: Heidelberg Project.
Saul and Ryan: Friends School.
Lily and Maya: Detroit City FC.

Before I gave them the results, I wrote on the board: What is the mission of the Detroit Projects? We held collection, and then I asked them to write their thoughts on the board.

They covered the usual ground of community service:

  • so that we can help make Detroit a better place

They didn't miss fun as a motivating factor:

  • to meet new people.
  • 'cause it's fun!

They were aware of what's happening already:

  • to know the heroes of Detroit
  • to recognize that people in Detroit are creating great organizations and for SK kids to be involved in that

They saw opportunities for a synthesis of our little city and the great big one down the road:

  • culture mix smoothie (that is, Ann Arbor's culture and Detroit's)
  • to connect two different environments to make a better one

They saw bigger purposes:

  • to have a more environmentally healthy community
  • for the people, by the people, of the people

They understood that the objective was not just to do something over the next few weeks, but to create a sustainable set of connections:

  • to connect future Summers-Knollians with the outside world
  • to create paths that will be turned into roads

How about that? I've included above everything that the kids wrote, with just a few (very few) corrections for spelling. I didn't cherry-pick the best comments: this is everything they wrote.

To their observations, I added 'to make SK kids stronger'--there's something in it for us, and my recent mantra with them has been My job is not to show you a good time. My job is to make you stronger. I also wrote to deepen connections between Detroit and Ann Arbor, but I didn't have to--they had covered that already.

I was proud of their thinking. I was impressed.

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