This is the middle of my third week here at the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and the learning curve I'm experiencing is feeling like it's beginning to smooth out some, and with some light at the end of this tunnel, I feel as though I'm approaching a new understanding of what not only this site is trying to accomplish, but of how they aim to do it, and of how they aim to prove that they are doing it. Meeting fellow staff here has been a great help to me in this regard, and many thanks to Matt and Karina for having discussions with me about the program thusfar. Most of my last week here has been much the same in terms of reading through the large collection of articles that Dan has amassed on the website, feeling oftentimes as though I am auditing a new class. I am grateful for this wealth of knowledge though, as the more I can get an understanding of all of the aspects of this organization, the better I can convey it's ideas and it's mission to those around me, as it truly is an innovative project.
Today started off with a meeting between my co-workers, Dan, and Nicole Huser from the Adler School. I appreciated her stopping in, as it's nice to know that I am still being supported by the school and that their resources can become my resources for assistance if necessary. After the meeting, I was left with a new motivation to find my niche in how I can help the Tutor/Mentor Connection by doing more than passing along it's ideals to those around me. I began looking into the Social Network Analysis articles on the website, as well as the models that have been done in the past. I was also introduced to the collection of previously filled out grant proposals, and am considering that as another side project I can work on. During my three hour commute (yes, 3 hour), I was contemplating my last blog post, and was attempting to rationalize how a social psychological model framework could be tweaked to fit into a social problem, such as education. If one could replace the Individual as the center of the model with the societal problem (such as education), making the microsystems at work around it the different influences that influence a child's ability to learn effectively (or the different organizations working independently to solve the problem), and then T/MC as the surrounding bubble that addresses the interactions between those microsystems...as I said, I was just brainstorming this idea as an interesting way to convey what T/MC's mission is in a psychological model framework.
Thanks Joseph. Your comment saying "feeling oftentimes as though I am auditing a new class" is right on target. Your thoughts about a psychological model framework that puts the youth at the center is also on target.
If you browse our picture library you'll see many graphics that I've created to try to visualize these ideas. When I use this village map, I'm showing a learning network, where young people, college students, and adults, can be drawing from web based information libraries like the T/MC, to support their on-going understanding and involvement in solving complex social problems.This graphic could be different parts of a University. Or it could be a network of alumni from many universities connected to each other in an on-going learning network committed to solving the same problem.
In our introduction to the T/MC web site we compare our library to a "shopping center" and say
The issue we address, poverty in inner city neighborhoods, is complex and extensive. The information hosted on this website therefore provides a wide range of information in many different sections. It may be difficult for first-time visitors to know where to start or what to look for.
Thus, we hope you will browse the site like you would the first time you go to a new shopping center with hundreds of stores. Open the various sections and links to see what they offer, then go on to the next section. Bookmark those that you feel will be most useful to you so that when you visit again, you can spend more time there.
The website links to many other sites, which can also be confusing. But again, a shopping center has many different stores. As you learn to move back and forth from one site to another--just like you go from store to store--we hope you will begin to get comfortable with this arrangement of information.
In the four part strategy we show step one as collecting information and step two as increasing the number of people who look at the information every day. However, step three involves helping people understand the information and learn how to use it in actions that make more and better non-school learning supports available in inner city neighborhoods.
We need a benefactor to step forward with a major gift, such as this $500,000 donationto the Maxwell School of Syracuse University by a Chicago businessman to help us expand the T/MC so we can help more people find and use this information, or to endow a program at a unversity anywhere in the country that will take the same role, and help thousand of students and adults be involved in life-long learning, collective action and problem solving aimed at helping kids born in poverty get the learning supports they need to be adults living out of poverty.
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