Friday, September 07, 2007

London Calling: Time for a Chat?

Moving Experiences (The Other Kind)

I've officially settled to London and am surprised to love the weather. New York is fabulous, but the summers are horrific.

As many of you can attest, I'm sure, moving, especially out of the country, isn't much more fun than New York summers, but I'll leave that for tips on what not to do if ever the urge arises to become an expat.

When Last We Saw Our Heroes . . .

CAGSE had hooked up with The Iris Project -- an excellent effort in two classrooms to teach Latin in one school and a very good classroom Classics magazine. It grew as its founder joined CAGSE, and with the company's help, grew into a full-blown program in 20 schools -- possibly, now, 21.

Lorna Robinson, our director of Latin programs, two weeks ago decided to go her own way and leave CAGSE. She will continue teaching in Hackney, and we wish her well.

News From the Front

Happily, however, we have found someone we think is even better suited to CAGSE's highly creative and adaptive strategies. Rich Scott, and actor by training, spent last year teaching year 5 children Latin in highly innovative ways. He has agreed to come onboard as our new director and with our CEO, Richard Gilder, hired 7 teachers in a field with a reputation for scarcity. The key? Our teachers come from widely different backgrounds and formal schooling -- from anthropology to history to classics to theater.

It's these differences that have made our program so much richer than if we had left the job only to post-graduates in Classics. Along with Richard's teaching strategies -- tested for 22 years on students from primary through post-graduate school -- we have no doubt that these classes will demonstrate that Latin is an effective vehicle for teaching the kind of transferable skills every school (and business) cries out for.

Follow us as the year progresses and see what happens.

Meanwhile, Somewhere in Central London . . .

We have gained many other remarkable staff as well in the past two weeks for whom we are grateful.

Sarah Mooney, an independent consultant and professional storyteller, is working with me on programs to integrate critical thinking into coursework.

The journey involves uncovering biases and challenges lurking beneath all narratives -- from newspaper articles to fairy tales. Children use familiar structures to tell their own stories, to critique them, and to find their own voices in the service of self-expression across contexts.

Sarah has a magic about her that all wonderful storytellers do. You can't describe it any better than you can the magic of a great teacher. But it's there.

Natalie White, a consultant who specializes in behavior management, is working with us to put together an assessment of the soft skills that the Latin, Learning Lab, and critical thinking effect and influence.

Natalie is also creating a citizenry program for an under performing school in Essex and has generously asked me to contribute some work on thinking and writing. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Henrietta Barnes has taken over the management of our website, and we will continue posting information about programs and bio's of our remarkable staff as we get them. Hen is one of the fastest studies and funniest people I've ever met.

Pippa Salmon, a PhD in Physics and mother of two wonderful kids, is working with us as a strategist, project manager, and general problem-solving consultant. There might never have been someone as overqualified for a job as Pippa is for this one, but she, like the rest of us. are dedicated to help change the way people think about education and of what all children are capable.

And there will be more.

Anyone Up for a Chat?

This is not an attempt at marketing. CAGSE is currently running at full capacity with three pilot programs in three different London boroughs.

I'm posting today to ask for those involved in similar work to get in touch.

Do any of you implement diverse programs -- as vastly different as learning the Latin language and having kids work with industry -- for the sake of developing the same sorts of skills in each?

If you're in the US rather than the UK, what have you found? If you're in the UK, where do you operate, and what do you do?

I'll continue posting this year about what we discover.

Anyone up for a conversation?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Proof of Concept: Following from the Last Post

. . . I just watched a play about the Minotaur in a school where the children are categorically not considered Gifted and Talented (literally).

The actors made the project interactive -- lots of standing up, screaming out, and playing roles.

At the Q & A part of the morning, the kids' answers were much more interesting than the questions the actors asked them.

And they all could answer in Latin.