As schools, districts and states go further down the path known generically as "accountability," we risk losing our humanness and humaneness for the sake of preparing students for tests, and for working-life in a global economy. Students who may feel on the fringes already due to many things about them, are at even greater risk of being further marginalized if we do not adopt approaches to education that recognize that all change begins with the development of the heart, the body and the mind together. We work to approach big societal challenges in education--but sometimes miss that often big answers begin in young hearts.
The work that CEI is doing allows our age of accountability (which is necessary and worthy) to join hands with the very real fact that we work with flesh and blood young people with needs, dreams, desires and abilities they may not even recognize yet. The work of Chris and her team gives schools and teachers permission to approach the challenges that confront educators with the recognition that individuals--whole individuals matter--and that intellectual development is only enhanced by emotional development and community development. Self-actualized adults will grow from children who develop in a pedagogical context that embraces that schools must be accountable not only for academic outcomes--but also for the outcomes attached to the notions of being an empathetic, committed, strong member of the larger community.
The work that Chris, Michele, Yvette and company are doing has the potential to improve individual lives--but also holds the promise of improving neighborhoods, and entire communities. This work that embraces the head, the heart and the guts (courage, self-confidence, etc.) hold out real hope for really making education matter beyond what graduates know and can do. The marriage of hard science and heart science holds great promise for the futures of children and their communities.