Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Favorite Class is Lunch

That's probably one of the oldest jokes made by students (newsflash: teachers make it too), but today it wasn't a joke for me. Today's lunch was more than a veggie wrap and some chips. The Clinton School frequently brings in speakers for what they call Public Programs and many of these happen during the lunch hour.
The Clinton School, in cooperation with the Center on Community Philanthropy, brought Kristin Lindsey to speak with the Little Rock community during lunch today and then again to speak with my classmates and I after our Leadership class. Honestly, I didn't expect much. I expected a few interesting anecdotes and some encouragement to continue a life of public service. What I got was 2 solid hours of insight into the current state of philanthropy.
I applied to the Clinton School because I knew I lacked the skills to help my students understand how to Make a Difference in the world. I led them through many community service projects and was proud of what they created, but I knew that if I knew more, they could do more.
I came to the Clinton School hoping to get a better perspective on serving the community. I needed to stand back and take a look at all of the groups and organizations doing their part and understand how they all fit together. I also needed to get immersed in a couple of those organizations to get an insider's understanding.
After listening intently for 2 hours, I can tell you that if I left the Clinton School today, I'd leave feeling like I'd taken a significant step towards achieving my goal of getting a broader perspective.

So what does that mean for you the reader, student or teacher? The person who might be reading this as a how-to guide? As I look back at the events of the first week-and-a-half of school, I suppose it means this: try to find ways to meet and listen to people who are doing what you want to do. For my classmates, it might have been Vic Snyder, or Ginger Beebe, or one of the graduates of the Clinton School who've come to speak with us. Or it might be one of the upcoming speakers. For me, it was Kristin Lindsey's message that really gave me food for thought and the hunger to know even more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Brain is Running

The good news is: I'm learning a lot. The bad news is: I'm learning a lot. It's not so much 'bad' news as it 'overwhelming' news. Seriously. I've now finished my second full day of classes and I don't know where to begin listing the things I'm learning. On one hand, I'm learning to be a student again in the most basic sense of needing binders to get organized and training myself to sit still and focus for classes that are THREE HOURS long. On another hand, I'm learning about a wide range of social issues from brief conversations with my incredible classmates. On yet another hand, I'm learning from the experiences I described in the earlier post.

Those of you counting at home may have noticed that I've already exceeded the number hands assigned to most people at birth. And I haven't even gotten to the official learning, the stuff in the classes. I'm taking classes on Analysis and Decision Making, Communications, Leadership, and Legal and Ethical Issues. They're all focused on how to apply these concepts to Public Service. Already I've had to/gotten to read Antigone (yes, sophomores, the same one you're reading. An aside: Go Creon!) as well as John Dewey and a couple of other folks. Did I mention this is only Day Two?!

Today we started talking about our first meetings with the organizations we'll be working with for our first field service experience. I've facilitated community service projects for 6 years and yet I was sitting there thinking "That's a great idea I'd never thought of before," multiple times throughout the class.

My brain is running full speed in several different directions and it really doesn't feel like it's keeping up in any of them. I suppose the fact that I want it to keep running is a sign that I've chosen the right school.