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Lifelong Learning Radio Series — Crossing the Finish Line

Another week, another inspiring learning story from WAMU 88.5 FM as part of its ongoing weekly Lifelong Learning series of radio stories about people’s most powerful learning experiences. This week’s story comes from H.Y. Griffin, a Washington resident who works as a community organizer through AmeriCorps, achieved a big dream with a little celebrity inspiration a lot of community support. Take a listen — and please spread the word!

Don’t Believe the Hype (About College)

It’s not what you think. I’m a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin (and two graduate schools). I loved college. And it’s undeniable that the United States boasts some of the best universities in the world. I’m also someone who flunked out my freshman year with a 0.6 GPA. In fact, I’d say it wasn’t until I flunked out that I had a chance of being successful. I simply wasn’t ready for what college was designed to give me (aside from the unsupervised social time). Although my freshman-year GPA was surprisingly low, my freshman-year experience is unsurprisingly common. Too many young people simply aren’t ready for college, for a variety of reasons – meaning they either coast through four or five years and waste a ton of money along the way, or, if they’re lucky, they crash and burn so badly that they discover, for the first time, what it is they actually want to do with their lives – as opposed to what the adults in their lives have told them they should do. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently since reading Matthew Crawford’s bestselling book, Shop Class as Soulcraft. Crawford, as you may know, got

Learner Sketch Update

We got a great note the other day from Max Roach, a Utah-based educator, and wanted to share it as an example of how some people are using the Learner Sketch Tool with their students. How are YOU using the tool, or the other resources associated with the Faces of Learning campaign? Share your voice with us . . . —– I just used the Learner Sketch tool with my classes and WOW! It was fantastic. The class is 9th-12th grade Learning Strategies, a class where we explore the constructs of the mind and how our minds’ makeup interacts with academic tasks (among other things). This tool’s exportable PDF learning profile is a fantastic way to frame a meaningful conversation about learning outcomes as an expression of our cognitive strengths and weaknesses. -And of course that we all have them! What I like most about this tool is it gives students, parents and teachers specific strategies to overcome difficulties. I would recommend this tool for any classroom teacher, parent or student. Whether studying English, math, history, etc., every student can benefit from knowing more about how they learn and getting specific study strategies CUSTOM TAILORED to their learning profile. Here

“You will hustle to your position every time”

“On the field!” It’s been twenty-five years, and I can still hear the growling voice of Coach Burkhead yelling at my teammates and me. “Off the field!” It was supposed to be a normal baseball practice with my Police Boys Club #8 team in Northwest DC. But Coach Burkhead spotted one of my teammates walking off the field in between innings of our previous game. Now, we all were paying for it. “On the field!” For the rest of the practice, Coach Burkhead had us sprint from the bench to our positions on the field, and then back again. Dozens — and dozens — and dozens of times. “Welcome to the real world, gentlemen,” he said at the end of practice. “You will hustle to your position every time.” Today, such behavior from a coach might prompt threats of a lawsuit from outraged parents. Back in the mid-1980s it was what you came to expect from Coach Burkhead. He was an institution within Police Boys Club #8. A gruff, thickly-built cop, he intimidated younger kids who had yet to have him as a coach and inspired devotion among older players who had survived a year or two on his team.

Friends & Fakes

One time while I was in the 7th grade, I was popular and I had a lot of friends. Everywhere I would go somebody was coming up to me or calling out my name. And in every class I had at least 4 of more friends that I would be close with and I would talk to them all the time. Then I got into some crazy trouble and I got sent to Crossroads. Crossroads is an alternative school for people who really act up or for people who did something bad, and when you are in Crossroads you can not have no interactions or communicate with the people in the school so like I lost close contact with my friends. I tried and tried to get in contact with them almost everybody and it was like they were mad at me or something; they wouldn’t ever respond back to me. For example, one day I was at the store and I saw one of my friends and I tried talking to her, but she just ignored me, and kept walking right past me. So that’s when I said to myself “Why should I be their friend if they won’t

Scholarships Can Go Away Easily

I learned a very valuable lesson from a very important person in my life: my Dad. My Dad was a very talented athlete when he was in high school. When I meet old coaches of his, they tell me he was an awesome player and he had great character. They also say he had colleges calling about him all of the time. I thought this was very weird because my dad didn’t go to college. So, one day, I went to ask my dad why he didn’t go to these colleges. He just told me to stay away from bad crowds because they will get you in trouble. Learning more of his story taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. One Saturday night, after a big state championship baseball game against Gwinnett County, my state-championship-baseball-playing dad decided he wanted to go out and get drunk. Of course, my grandparents told him to do as they tell him and not go out but my dad disobeyed them and did it anyway. Why my dad did this I will never know. One thing I will always remember is my grandpa telling me the night your father disobeyed me

Mean Teachers

One day, I woke up and my mouth was really super dry. So I got up and went to the fridge and I drank…tea, Pepsi, diet Coke, Coke…Mountain Dew, coffee, orange juice…apple juice, water, milk, Dr. Pepper…chocolate milk, PowerAde, and grape juice! And, FINALLY, my parched mouth was ALL better. Then I went back to my room, got my clothes, and went and took a shower. I got out of the shower, got dressed, and went to brush my teeth and my hair. Then I waited and waited for…breakfast. After breakfast, my parents tugged me outside and threw me into the back of our family car. Then, horror, I was dropped off at my FAVORITE place ever: SCHOOL!!! Yea…kidding about that. So, I’m going to my 4th grade class taught by Ms. Thinksheknowsitall and, suddenly, excruciatingly, I get the urge to pee. Knowing that if I do go I will be late for class, I just go to class hoping the teacher will let me go later. So…I go to class and ask Ms. Thinksheknowsitall permission, and she says much to my utter discomfort, “Oh, well, why didn’t you go before class?”And I kindly respond by saying, “But Ms. Thinksheknowsitall,

My Daddy

When I was in seventh grade, my dad didn’t come home much. Sometimes, he was away for days. I remember always telling my brothers he was out saving the world when really he was out building houses and doing things I didn’t know he did. My brothers were still sad. I always made up some kind of story about what he was doing to make them feel better. My mom was never sad; at least she didn’t show it. She is a strong and independent woman who never worried. I love her so much. My dad is a loving and caring man. He would never do anything to hurt us. Honestly he is scary big, but he is the most gentle and loving person. However, even the ones you think won’t hurt you, will. I had just gotten out for summer break. My mom was at work, and my brothers were with me. I was sitting at home when my mom called and told me my dad had gotten into some kind of trouble with the law. She was crying, and I cried too. I didn’t know what to say or think. I hesitated to say it’s going to be

My Lesson Learned

When I was in 6th grade, I felt like I was on top of the world. My best friend, Julia, and I were very close. We had been friends since the first day of our 5th grade year. We always hung out together, and we just had tons of fun. Around the beginning of September a girl had moved to our school. Her name was Kristen, and she had math class with Julia and me. We all became really good friends. Kristen and I started hanging out a lot, and Julia and I sort of stopped hanging out as much. When Kristen moved here to the county I live in, Julia and I became not so close. We still talked but not like we used to! It made me sad, and Kristen would tell me things that Julia had told her about me that weekend when they were hanging out. They were never good things either. I never asked Julia about them even though it bothered me terribly! I kind of just brushed them away. One weekend in December around Christmas time I was over at Kristen’s house. We were just hanging out having some fun, and then all of

An change in thought

When I was in the fifth grade, there was a girl in my class who would always be very mean and rude. She would always pick on others and was never in a good mood. The teacher would always tell her, “You have to treat others like you would want to be treated.” But she didn’t take the teacher’s advice; she would be mean or rude, and then cry when nobody would want to talk to her or play with her. When I told my mom about the girl, she told me that I didn’t know what made the girl act that way, and to never be mean to her no matter how horrible she would act toward me. But as the school year went on, the girl still acted the way she always had. She never changed. A year later when I was in sixth grade the girl moved out of town. I remember thinking that in all her time of going to my school, she never had one friend. I’m sixteen years old now and a sophomore in high school. I still occasionally think about that girl and how she is doing, and wish that when we were

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