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MORE's mission is to
• provide a supportive environment for creative critical thinking, igniting a passion for learning
• instill a sense of civic responsibility and encourage students to know the many facets of their community, empowering them to improve it
• connect younger and older generations eye-to-eye, project-by-project and expand the perspective of the people in our community, presenting possibilities of lifelong friendship, learning and invention
MORE After School is a community development organization that uses an after school enrichment program as its vehicle to achieve its mission.
There are 3 elements to each MORE enrichment course: interdisciplinary hands-on academics, intergenerational exchange, and service learning. Our goal is for these three elements to intertwine in the classroom. More importantly, however, is that they make their way out of it and back into our community, be it scholastic, local, or global.
Academics. We begin by finding incredible teachers (we call them lead instructors) and ask them to teach whatever they love so much they must pass it on to the next generation. These passions have included bridges, paper, bicycles, ancient artifacts, knitting, flying, portraits, food, travel, etc. We explore the multi-faceted, complex nature of a topic in a way that does not involve worksheets, and instead reaches beyond the limitations of traditional school subject categories like math, social studies, or physical education. We can follow a topic’s development as it meanders across multiple areas of human endeavor, interest and academic discipline. We then create an 8-week curriculum that begins to tackle each part of the whole by means of active investigation, questioning, and experimentation.
Intergenerational Exchange. In order to facilitate truly active participation, our classes never exceed 12 students, and always maintain a student-teacher ratio of 4:1. There is a lead instructor and 2 assistant teachers (we call them mentors) from our immediate community- a high school student and an older adult. This way we have at least 3 generations in each classroom teaching and learning together. This teaching team (we call it a teaching triumvirate) plans the curriculum and works together to evaluate its success and/or need for revision throughout the session. All have different life experiences and professional expertise, as well as different ways of moving, smelling, thinking and speaking.
Service learning. MORE service learning is academically-based, starting with our multi-faceted subject matter. We teach and practice skills to and with our students, constantly showing them contexts in which others use them. With this continuous contextual knowledge transfer they are shown example after example, so that they can eventually begin to identify their own contexts in which to apply their newly-acquired skills.
In MORE origami classes, for instance, the skills learned are precision, patience, and discipline, while the contexts shown are geometry, paper and sculpture, Japanese culture, solar sails, and nanotechnology. Each origami course’s student group has produced different service learning ideas and results of their own: one group went on to teach their peers origami free-of-charge at a local craft fair, another created a hanging art exhibit at a senior citizen center, yet another went on to collect their creations and pass them on as tiny envelope-sized presents for those in need of comfort and hope. Both community service and service learning benefit others, but where community service focuses on an end result, MORE service learning focuses on the process of creating the service idea itself. Students explore how what they are learning fits in to larger contexts, and any service projects executed have originated with them and are theirs alone in which to take pride.
- Melissa Colten
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