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Go Forth & Build Community

Community.  We have been talking about this concept in my one of my classes this month as we read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.  In the book, a neighborhood of strangers comes together to create a community garden.  The students in my class have been able to identify the important components of community - a sense of belonging, shared responsibilities, empowerment - and I think for the most part, we have these essentials in our classroom and in our school.

The problem is, we fail to include the broader community in our learning.  What would that even look like, I wonder?

We bring the parents in, we invite community workers and leaders to talk with the students, but do we bring the students out??  Sure, there are field trips and take your child to work day, but we do not have them out in the community on a consistent basis.  What if they worked in the public library once a week, cleaned up trash in the parks and playgrounds, interned at local businesses?  If we hope to prepare students for a modern workforce, shouldn't they see it and learn how it operates?

A school is not like a community garden.  We don't have to make people come to us.  If we want to build a sense of belonging, instill shared responsibility and empower everyone, perhaps we should try sending the students out into the community.

"Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear."
-W. B. Yeats