The KI EcoCenter utilizes the social entrepreneurship model as an ethical and grassroots tool to generate resources that support the crux of our work; to provide youth with the skills and tools necessary to be sustainable in a resource strapped world. The KI Community School (KICS) strives to be the academy that cultivates that educational process.
As KICS continues to endure its share of ebbs and flows, an educational methodology has found root and begun to flourish. The following is a list of theories and applications that have sprouted from the daily interactions at our school. We believe practicing some or all of these are essential for preparing future change agents.
It truly takes a village
On any given day the KICS students will interact with a 70-80 year old for a lesson in the kitchen on how to properly steep beans, with a 50-60 year old on how to interface with a community leader to find out about neighborhood issues, with a 30-40 year old on how to manage time and be productive and with a 20-30 year old that utilizes Systems Thinking as a tool to teach critical thinking. Some would call that a well- rounded education. Fundamentally, the KI Community School exists because of its intertwined community connection with the KI EcoCenter. Our students have access to a plethora of homegrown , enriching experiences that provide intergenerational opportunities and community asset development.
Students perform better when their individual voice is cultivated and valued.
We don’t condone status quo conformity, nor do we attempt to indoctrinate with any ideology, rather our school is an open forum for dialogue, discourse, deal making, agreeing to disagree and do! Our centers’ strategic process is reliant on the input and opines of our youth members. KI students are immersed into minimal risk roles in our social enterprises with built in accountability and profit measures that place the onus of progress on them. Subsequently, their efforts and executions are measured by the resource profitability of their contributions
Focus on “how to learn ” rather than what to learn
We realized that once children have their learning light “turned on” they will learn whatever they want to learn no matter how difficult or abstract. That said, we have only achieved this understanding by making content secondary to the process of learning. Many of our new students have been accused of not being able to learn. Those accusations are dispelled in our facility. Our strategy has been: : first creating an environment for learning ( which could involve a multitude of nuances ) next, figure out how the student learns ( aptitude/ability assessment , multiple intelligence assessment , interest inventories ) then, , create a plan that is inclusive of goals , objectives , needs and wants and finally set accountability standards. Once the plan is in motion , implement a consistent review and tracking of progress. We can say that each of our students whether long or short term will attest to some increment of learning, development and growth.
Point of engagement begins when children have personal interest and investment
Well behaved children will keep the peace and zone out and disruptive children will become more disruptive when they are disinterested. Even the most disruptive student will pay attention to anything that even remotely interests them. Some of our previous and current students represent particular sects of inner city culture. That culture brings with it certain elements that perpetuate the negative aspects of inner city life. Those students express recalcitrance and disdain until they have found something to attach to. One of our social enterprises - TPOF Records - is a digital record label started by some youth members of the KI EcoCenter. One of our former students found solace from a very violent and tumultuous home life in the confines of learning Pro Tools and Fruity Loops ( music production programs ) while also being responsible for learning vocabulary and using problem solving tools to correct technical issues
Agree to disagree with feisty pre-teens
A harmonious learning environment is essential for high order learning. Classroom drama must be nipped in the bud rapidly. You can either prepare to engage daily with the contrarian nature of hormonal, pre-teens or get smart and do away with the power struggle. Strong teachers impart their authority not with words but with strategic action that creates and respects parameters.
High school students need relevant internships that force them to think about their post high school plans in a realistic and relevant point of view
Our high school age students are currently obtaining practical skills and experience in real life work opportunities. They have become more responsible and focused as they are beginning to experience the trials and tribulations of balancing school and a work like environment. In that, they are learning direct skills , time management , and examining the potential of particular careers. They have become vested in their own life process.
Critical Thinking is as or more important than any other skill associated with self mastery and self sustainability
Critically thinking children become problem solving adults. When students are challenged mentally they are forced to think and act. At KI, we are minimally concerned with right or wrong answers. For that matter , answers are irrelevant, however: to think about a question , to have a an answer challenged, to change an answer because of a new thought or perspective, is what it takes to become informed and empowered in critical thought.
It is important to either know or understand hip – hop/rap/hood culture when teaching urban students
Urban culture has become the mainstream media culture in America. We are more influenced by the media more than ever. The social lens our children are looking through is, at some point in the process, filtered through America media. Children today have an innate revolutionary spirit. They are changers and concern themselves with very few limitations and barriers. Urban children don’t have the same allegiance to respecting authority as past generations. They are guarded and very loyal to family and family like members. Certain codes of respect have more value than any school rule or law. These are characteristics bred in the anthems of rap music and hip hop culture. Hip hop culture represents the primary social construct of the 40 and under generation and the most influential sect of our society.
Planning and organization are essential to child centered education
In an environment that perpetuates high functioning improvisation and an often unpredictable flow. Teachers and accountable adults have to be clear about the agenda, the goals and objectives at hand. Those adults have to be tuned into the rhythm of the students and help guide the direction. Child centered education can possess high intentionality toward long term outcomes that are inevitable with cultivation. For instance, a student expresses interest in making extra money for an upcoming trip, A plan of action can be formulated to include the passion of the child and implemented steps to achieve certain profit goals.