articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Learning and the community

Every aspect of our classroom learning environments is framed within the larger environments of our communities.

Successful learning in the classroom is dependent on the values and involvement of families, community leaders, and other members of the community.

If adults prize education, it will be prized by children. If families understand the importance of education, they will encourage their children to be respectful to their teachers and classmates, and to focus on their studies.

The community is one of the most important resources for active learning. In fact, one writer declares the way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about children's families.

Within the boundaries of any community is a wealth of knowledge - stories of the past, or of other places, the techniques of growing plants or raising animals, practical understanding of engines or printing presses.

In addition, children can learn actively by contributing to the knowledge and well-being of their communities: they can collect the stories of their elders, and illustrate them; they can learn about clean water and nutrition, and create posters or newsletters to share this information.

For children to develop strong minds, they must have enough to eat. To learn freely, they must feel safe at home and at school, and everywhere in between.

Nutrition directly affects the development of children's minds and bodies. In communities that are challenged by the needs of their children for nutrition - due to drought, storms, or other natural disasters, or due to political problems - teachers must anticipate that children will have special learning needs.

When poverty or political instability threaten children's security, they may have great difficulty focusing on the curriculum. Direct experiences of violence, to the children themselves, to members of their families, or simply within range of their perception, may require teachers to become sources of stability and healing, before normal learning goals can be addressed.

Connecting the classroom and the community

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Last revised April, 1999
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