Summer Camp Day Four: Reform or Transform?

Taking the bull by the horns, on the forth day of SoundOut Summer Camp students grappled with the difference between reforming schools and transforming education. Throughout the day, they were virtually bombarded with teambuilding and communication games, asked repeatedly to identify for themselves what works in schools and what should change while in the next breath they watch videos about what other students want to change in schools.

Taking a step from the more organized projects around the world, we watched videos from:


We also studied the history of student involvement, student voice and student power movements throughout history. I coupled the powerful new book, Teenage Rebelswith historic books like Student Power, Participation and Revolution and the awesome book Student Power. In the course of those books, students found stories about their city of Seattle from the 60s through the 80s, as well as stories about students of color they could relate to.

The question of reforming schools or transforming schools was central to the day. Constantly reminded of the importance of that issue, they asked each other where their school was at, what they’d seen and experienced before, and where they saw schools going in the future. The students pulled no punches, identifying that a lot of innovative practices sounded like things their white, middle and upper class peers around the city would experience before they would. They also said schools might change fast in other places, but their own schools seemed stuck in the past sometimes.

It was an enlightening day for me as a facilitator and writer, since these students were on the cusp of a new place I want to go in this work. Let’s see what time continues to share!


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