Education for the Heart

In the first weekend of October I attended a conference on the humanization of school systems at Shelburne Farms, a local, historic, working farm in my home state of Vermont. We met in one of the old houses on the farm grounds, in a cozy, rustic room, and I found myself facing a diverse group of people, who had travelled from as far as Detroit, Michigan, to talk about the educational work they were involved in.  Throughout the discussion, I was struck with how much their efforts at the humanization of the classroom coincided with what we had been working on with the What’s the Story? Program. And my excitement and curiosity was immediately piqued when we heard about the work of social action teams from across the country.

I didn’t become involved in the NGLN, and it wasn’t this October meeting with educators from various social action cohorts, that I actually learned of the NGLN steering committee. I had spent the previous year working on researching and creating a film about the treatment of calves in the Vermont dairy industry.  This project provided me with the opportunity to meet with local politicians, activists, and academics to work towards the humane treatment of livestock in Vermont. The fall time meeting at Shelburne Farms, the farm that instituted my interest in this topic, convinced me of the importance of providing students with the opportunity to be directly engaged with their community, and by the end of the conference, I had decided to apply for What’s the Story? for a second year.  It was the remembrance of the importance of WtS, the sense of power, and motivation that the program provided, and my passion on the subject that I researched the year before, that really ignited my readiness to join What’s the Story? once again.

These foundational components of passion, curiosity and motivation that What’s the Story? revolves around, seems to not only be present, but heightened and concentrated in all of the NGLN committee, and I cannot wait to see what I can learn from these committee meetings.

Lena Ashooh

2 Responses to “Education for the Heart

  • Nice to read your post here, Lena. Since we’ve been corresponding a bit about this, I know a bit about your own inquiry process in WtS. I love reading about your thinking and participating in discussion about the relationships between milk production and veal harvesting in VT.

    For this post, I want to pick up on the phrase, “humanization of the classroom” and your thoughts that the WtS process. I think you get at that when you write, “It was the remembrance of the importance of WtS, the sense of power, and motivation that the program provided, and my passion on the subject that I researched the year before, that really ignited my readiness to join What’s the Story? once again.”

    Here’s a question for other NextGen folks: what does “humanization of the classroom” mean to you? Are you having any experiences in which you’re getting a vision of a more humane feeling classroom or education? Or are you pushing against some kinds of dehumanizing elements in your education systems?

    Would love to hear from others.

    Best,
    Tom

  • Ceci Lewis
    3 weeks ago

    Lena,
    Thank you for this post. While reading your entry, I was thinking about what the humanization of education means to me. The idea that you were able to experience that in a classroom essentially without walls is what I see when I think of the humanization. Connecting our learning with our lives, making our education our life, and not separating them out is what I think the humanization of education should be all about. Thank you for this post!
    Ceci

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