“It’s amazing that a kid can have an idea and end up serving other kids in the community,” said Nicole Peters, development associate of Door of Hope (Girl Scout’s project provides hope through hoops by Bill Plaschke).
The Jan. 22, 2016 Los Angeles Times article tells the story of Claire Dundee. She spent seven months earning her Girl Scout Gold Award by organizing a basketball court construction project at the Door of Hope apartment complex, which provides transitional living for women and children left homeless as a result of domestic violence.
“For kids going through trauma, to be able to do kid things, that’s such a big thing,” said Tim Peters, executive director of Door of Hope.
Why isn’t school more like this humanitarian teen’s project?
Claire gained estimating, project management, negotiating, fund raising, and event planning skills — sophisticated skills that can be transferred into the marketplace.
Not to mention confidence and the joy she gained from knowing that she was responsible for improving the lives of children whose young lives have already been scarred by poverty and violence.
Many teens nowadays are losing critical developmental years playing to their weak suit, academically advanced curriculum that emphasizes theory and memorization instead of problem solving and creativity. Figuring out how to pull off a project of the magnitude of Hoops for Hope involves a lot of creativity. Although we associate creativity with music, art, and theater, resourcefulness and problem solving demand creative thought processes.
Not everyone is wired to be an engineer, a medical doctor, or a professor. So why does our curriculum generally play to only two (linguistic and mathematical) of the eight intelligences? (According to Howard Gardner, there are eight intelligences: musical, spatial, linguistic, mathematical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic, and each individual has a blend of them.)
With the technology that exists today, teens could learn math, writing, software, interpersonal, and so many other skills while tackling community problems and the nuances of the marketplace. Foreign language skills could be cemented by engaging in joint projects with students in foreign countries.
The possibilities are endless. Instead of all but the most academic of teens emerging from high school in a sleep-deprived daze unsure of career options and with little self-knowledge, we could end up with most teens graduating high school engaged, community-oriented, and confident of their future.