Thursday, February 16, 2017

If we don't learn from mistakes of the past we are certain to repeat them.

In November of 2016 I began reading a book written 2400 years ago, Thucydides' history of "The Peloponnesian War" which traced 23 years of war between Athens and Sparta and other Greek city states.  As I read the book, my understanding was increased by reading scholarly comments on by others who were reading the book at the same time.   I used my yellow marker to highlight passages that I felt relevant to 2017 and later transferred some of these to a Hackpad, which I used to write my own summary, which was posted here.

Then today, I viewed this ESRI storymap, about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2.  It's a powerful story of a mistake and injustice made in the past.

Earlier today I saw a post on my Twitter feed, saying 
"If we can change our worldview, we can change the future". 
That was a post by Harold Jarche @hjarche and drew my attention to a video titled "Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview".  As I started watching I wanted to take notes and decided to put the video on Vialogues, so I could comment as I viewed the video, and so others could do the same.

At the 12:06 point in the video the narrators begin to show how behavior is influenced and modified by the environment around us.  At the 18:26 point in the video the 1970s Stanford Prison Experiment was discussed, which showed how easy it might be for American's (or others) to repeat the sins of Nazi Germany or of the Japanese Internment Camps.

If you look at the notes I posted the Thucydides hackpad, you'll see a link to an article titled "State of Power: All Change or No Change. Culture, Power and Activism in an Unquiet World."  Within that is another article titled "There is no such thing as Western Civilization" (referred to a "Plato to Nato" in the host article).

From T/MI network building article
I read these and I hope some of you take the time to do the same. We're at a crossroads. It will take the efforts of a few passionate, dedicated people, to identify problems and innovate and implement solutions.  These people must find ways to connect with others, locally and globally, who are working toward similar goals.

This Building Networks of Purpose PDF is one of may that illustrate how this has been my goal for almost 20 years.

In the current political climate there are many, myself included, who fear that in a few years, in the worst case scenario,  many of us might be residing in new US based internment and concentration camps.  In an even worse case, we might tip the balance of nature and destroy the environment, and our ability as a human race to survive.

Neither of these is pre-destined.

If you're at a university, or considering making a major gift to a university, consider establishing a Tutor/Mentor Institute on your campus.  These two PDF show goals of such an effort.

* Forming a College-Based Tutor/Mentor Connection - click here
* University Tutor/Mentor Connection. A Vision. - click here

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"So You're Trying to Duplicate What Kids Have in Affluent Areas!"

I led a non-school tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975-2011, serving inner-city youth from the Cabrini-Green area.
This is the graphic one of my volunteers was looking at in the 1990s when he turned to me and said, "So You're Trying to Duplicate What Kids Have in Affluent Areas!"

Yes. That's what I feel a mentor-rich, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning program can try to do.

I've written about this many times in the past, but was prompted to write again today after reading an article titled, "I look like a self-made millionaire, but I owe my success to privilege."

Same challenges. Different resources.
Since 2015 I've posted articles about a book written by Dr. Robert Putnam, titled "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis", where he shows that affluent youth have growing advantages that are not available to low income youth of any race. I created this concept map to illustrate this.  If you're an African American living in poverty, you have even more challenges to overcome.

In the graphic at the top of the page I show a small map of Chicago in the lower left corner. This is to emphasize the need for well-organized, long-term, tutor/mentor programs to in all high poverty areas, serving a growing number of youth from first grade through high school and beyond.

That's the type of support affluent families and communities offer their kids. Since families in  high poverty areas struggle just to put food on the table and pay rent, and deal with outside influences such as violence, crime, racial discrimination, etc., it's up to people who don't live in poverty to help make needed programs available, and keep them available for many years.

So where are leaders talking about this?  What are the challenges? What are the Tipping Points?  I've spent over 30 years thinking about this. Below is one of many presentations that share my ideas.

If we want well-organized, on-going, non-school tutor/mentor and learning programs to reach youth in high poverty areas of big cities, rural areas and reservations, we need to be building libraries of information, which I have been doing, and then using that information to train leaders who will staff these programs and who will support decision making among businesses, foundations and government policy makers.

Influence both sides.
I created this graphic a couple of years ago. If we want kids in poverty to move through school more safely and into jobs and lives free of poverty, we need to influence what non profit leaders and staff do, and we need to influence what business, foundations, government, etc. do.  Read the article.

I've spent 40 years thinking of ways to recruit adult volunteers to be tutors, mentors and change agents in the lives of  urban youth. I've been writing articles and sharing them via printed newsletters and Internet for 23 years.

I don't expect anyone to instantly grasp what I'm describing. It's only by spending time reading, reflecting, and creating your own visualizations, over and over for many years, that others will build a shared understanding.

That means the learning needs to begin while future leaders are still in middle school!

I keep searching for partners, benefactors, universities, etc. who understand the long-term work that needs to be done in order for well-organized, long-term programs be be reaching more youth in high poverty with support systems that give these youth some of the same "privileges" as affluent White kids grow up with.

If you want to help please reach out to me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Little Friday Motivation - You Gotta Swim

Below is a video that was in the final panel of a Terry Elliott presentation that I just finished viewing. Click here and you can see the 20 slides and collection of music that Terry uses to comment on a blog article posted early this week by Simon Ensor. Terry is in Kentucky. Simon is in France.

Take a look. Take a listen.

Thanks Terry. Thanks Simon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Helping Kids Through School Requires On-going Effort

The Chicago papers continue the daily reporting of violence in the city and now the new President is adding his own ideas on the problem and solutions.

Mentoring and non-school youth serving programs have been offered as solutions, but too few are talking about the many years of support it takes to help a youth move from elementary school through high school and into a job and career out of poverty....and how long it takes to build a great, well-organized youth program.

I've created dozens of graphics to illustrate ideas I share in this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute,LLC web site. I'll show a few here.  In the above graphic I show 7th and 8th grade teens who were part of the tutor/mentor program I formed in Chicago in 1993. At the right is a photo of one of those kids, who, after college, came back to talk at a year-end dinner.  She and I and many of the other kids and volunteers are still connected on Facebook...nearly 20 years after we first met. That's what I mean by long-term tutor/mentor programs.

Below is another graphic, that focuses on the planning process needed to make programs like the one I was leading available in hundreds of locations.
I compare this process to the planning generals do to win wars.  They use maps to show where the enemy is, then plan strategies that put our troops, with better weapons and training, and better support systems, in places where the enemy is concentrated.   In this analogy, volunteer tutors/mentors and paid staff of non-school tutor/mentor programs are our 'troops". They need to be in every high poverty area of Chicago and its suburbs, and need to be well trained and supported.

At the far left on the above graphic is STEP 7, which is the work needed to build and sustain public will, and consistent funding, to fight the war in every location where poverty, lack of jobs, lack of hope and opportunity, lead to violence against others and violence against self.

I encourage you to view a concept map with this graphic, and a presentation that explains the seven steps.  Then look at this video, which was created by an intern from South Korea.  Think of ways you, or your students, might communicate these ideas to your network.

The next visual is one created while Barack Obama was President.

Building great tutor/mentor programs, and the public will needed to finance them and provide an on-going flow of volunteers, is a huge, and on-going challenge.  I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with the goal of building greater visibility and a better flow of volunteers and operating dollars to tutor/mentor programs in all poverty areas of Chicago.  Not having many dollars to advertise, the T/MC created quarterly events which drew programs together to learn from each other and created media attention at key times a year. By repeating these events year-after-year the goal was to build a larger level of support.

In 2010 two interns from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, created Flash animations that showed the quarterly event calendar. In 2011 I created a video to record the animation.  Recently I put this video in a Vialogue, where I could offer comment and update contact information.  It's a place you can also view the video and start a discussion.  These are another example of how students and volunteers can learn new skills, while communicating ideas that mobilize community support for tutor/mentor programs or other needed services.

We're at a very difficult time in US and world history. People are marching in the streets to protest a dramatically new form of political reality and there are many important issues that require attention, and public will.

That's why I hope a few people will spend time reading this article, follow the links, and think of ways you and others can help build public will and support for needed, mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in high poverty areas of Chicago, other cities and rural America.

At the same time, I hope that this planning process will be used in other sectors to mobilize talent and resources needed to find solutions to complex problems, and to find ways to make America a great place to live and raise families for people throughout this country and for those who see this country as a place of hope, opportunity, freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Program Design - Supporting Long-Term Mentor-Youth-Org Connections

Kevin Hodgson's blog 2-4-17
I follow Kevin Hodgson's blog because he's constantly sharing ideas that he applies in  his Western Massachusetts middle school classroom, and in his networking and learning with others via the Internet.  He posted the graphic at the left today, showing how students in his classes had been creating a dictionary of words they invented for nearly a decade. He wrote that
"this year's class of word inventors weren't even born when the first class of inventors began making up words in 2005"
This is a practical application of a strategy I feel should be in place in every volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, as well as in K-12 schools and universities.  I used this graphic to describe the strategy in the mid-2000s as I was trying to implement it in the tutor/mentor program that I was leading.

In this concept map I show a goal of building habits of learning, using the organization web site as a place find and share information and ideas, not just while students and volunteers are active, but in the years following their involvement.  You can view the map here and read an article where I described it here.

I don't know if Keven's goal was to build habits that motivated his students to continue to come back to see what's happening in his classroom, or to look for ways to help current students move through school and into jobs, but his site is a stepping stone toward such a goal.

How does this apply to helping kids living in poverty connect with a wider range of adult support? Look at the graphic below which I created in the mid 1990s to describe the program I was leading in Chicago.

Total Quality Mentoring - Mentor-Rich program design
This hub and spoke design could be a model for every child, showing the adult support and learning experiences needed to move safely through school and into adult lives.  It could also be the design of a tutor/mentor program, showing how the program draws volunteers from many career and work fields together as tutors/mentors and leaders. It could also be used to show the types of learning and enrichment the program makes available to its members.  It could be used by city leaders to show the type of programs they are trying to help grow in all poverty areas of a city. It's also the design of a classroom, with the teacher as the hub. It could also be individual students, who are the center of networks of peers.

The "It takes a village to raise a child" statement can be turned into program design, and strategies, aimed at drawing students and volunteers together in long-term relationships.

What Kevin has piloted, and what I'm showing with the concept map above, is an effort to build habits of learning and sharing, using a web site, wiki or some other on-line library and forum, as a place to get and give information, or to get and give help, far into future years when the student becomes an adult and part of the network of adults who are helping each other, and helping younger students rise up the pipeline from birth to work.

I've been applying this strategy in my own efforts for many years. At the right is a graphic showing former Cabrini-Green area students and volunteers who I've worked with since 1973, who I'm still connected with on Facebook (in 2012). Here's a PDF with this and other network analysis graphics.

Kevin has been maintaining his platform for over 10 years and has had to move it to different platforms as technology has changed.  How many volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs have been in business for ten years?  How many have databases of former students and volunteers and/or are using those to share information that helps alumni continue to grow in their lives,  while also engaging alumni in work that supports the school, the program, and the young people coming up?

Kevin has been able to do what he does, and I've been able to do what I do, because we've been consistently involved for many years.  I focus on drawing talent and operating dollars to non-school tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas because if they can't keep a core group of people involved for a decade or longer they can't build this type of learning network.  If you're a champion of mentoring, or concerned with urban poverty, inequality and violence, this should be something you focus on.

I don't know who reads my blog among the many programs I point to on this list of Chicago programs, or this list of programs from beyond Chicago.  I do know that many of those I'm trying to connect with, and help, don't make an equal effort to connect with me.  Just looking at the Twitter list of organizations and people who don't follow me back illustrates this.

However, when I see people in other states, like Terry Elliott, paying attention to what I'm writing, I am encouraged to keep sharing these ideas.  I hope by sharing links to their work others will make an effort to duplicate some of these ideas.