On day two of the 2015 SoundOut Student Voice Summer Camp, students began to make meaning of the question, “Why school?”
Our camp cohort, who are all students of color, are enlivened by the question. Suddenly connecting camp with their regular school year learning, they connect schools with issues like gentrification, white privilege, discrimination and more. Authors like James Baldwin and Ann Petry are brought up by some, while others detail their hopes and dreams for education.
We examine the meanings of words, including the difference between school, learning and education. Students raise the issue of mindsets in school, and the importance of staying focused on your goals versus simply listening to where parents, teachers and other students think you should go.
Students have the opportunity to watch introductory presentations from another camp in the school called Project 206. Developed to introduce high school freshman to Cleveland, their participants have to present their own learning projects focused on the effects of gentrification on their neighborhoods. The SoundOut Summer Camp students remember their own introduction to Cleveland this way, and enjoy watching their incoming peers to the building.
The day continues by exploring songs focused on schools, education and learning, like Peter Tosh singing “You Can’t Blame the Youth” and the White Stripes’ “We Are Going To Be Friends”. I found Pink Floyds “Another Brick In The Wall Part II”, and suddenly all of them were humming the chorus: “We don’t need no education…”
At the end of the day, students had largely concluded that education was theirs to learn, and school is one vessel to use among many throughout their lives. Students closed out the day by exploring their thoughts on Maya Angelou’s quote,
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”