Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bill Strickland: Transforming Education

Before being assigned to read some of Bill Strickland’s book I had never heard of the book or even him. After a few pages I realized he was the President and CEO of Manchester Craftsman’s Guild but then I realized I had never heard of this company. After five or so pages I realized exactly what he had created. He had an idea to build a school in the middle of one of the worst places in Pittsburgh and had great success. This school is no ordinary school because the first building was made for pottery. How can making something out of clay cause kids to have higher attendance and better grades in school? This was the question that Mr. Strickland answered in the rest of his book, his speech at Allegheny College for the Annual Theme, and with this interview on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAGRdaVlQL0

Bill Strickland found that treating kids that come from poor neighbors like actual human beings made all of the difference. Kids wanted to go to the center Strickland created and over the years the school turned into a school with a waiting list. Now the school has a jazz, pottery, cooking, and training for other fields all included in buildings alone that are works of art. By designing the building with one of Frank Lloyd Wright's students and putting the best of the best in the school, students understand what being respected is and that’s what I think is the driving force for the school. During his speech he noted that the police never had to be called once for any incidents of vandalism or theft which is surprising for the artwork displayed and the neighborhood it is in. I feel like this is one of the most powerful things because it shows that people respect what is given to them if they are respected themselves. The school has been helping people go off of welfare and find jobs that can help them support a family and live a better life. These results are so powerful that during Mr. Strickland’s speech he talked about how so many other cities are trying these types of schools with the same success. I think my favorite part about the speech was when he talked about how he talked to the U.S. senators about trying to reform the education system in the United States. When they were asked if they could change the current system since it’s outdated and obviously not working they said it would be too hard to change. He said if you can’t change the education system than who is supposed to be able to change it and none of the senators responded and all put their heads down. I think this shows how much work will be needed to help fix the system we have in place because according to Strickland with his way of teaching in place it would cost 1/3 of what it’s costing the United States for education. Since Mr. Strickland has been having amazing results different countries now want to try applying his way of teaching to schools in their big cities. I think this just goes to show how powerful his new way of learning has become. The biggest thing to remember is that he is not doing this for money; he was one of the poor kids in the neighborhood and recognized a change needed to be made and he has created that change.


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