What Would Happen if Future World Leaders Grew up in a Zone? There's one in New York, Miami, San Francisco, the UK and Israel so far--a zone for positive peer pressure. I just read about it and it is so exciting to me I want to blast it across the Internet. Here is what the Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote that brought tears to my eyes: "HARLEM--The late day sky was spitting snow.
Inside the classroom, tiny black children, younger than kindergarten, sat in a circle, legs folded 'criss-cross apple sauce' beneath them. Soon they would begin their French lesson, but first there was a ritual chant. "'There is a girl in our class and her name is Khadija,' they began, voices rising in litle kid enthusiasm, hands clapping in time.
Khadija got up, moved to the center of the circle and began jumping with all her heart. "'Jump. jump, Khadija,' they sang. 'We're glad you're here today.
' Around the room they went until each child had had a turn in the center of the circle." In the rest of his column Pitts explained that he had gone to Harlem to tour the Harlem's Children Zone, a 97-square block network of schools, social services and teen outreach programs. The Harlem Zone is "the brainshild of of Geoffrey Canada, a 55-year old New Yorker who believes you cannot effectively educate a child when his world is falling down around him, when he is hungry, sick, fatherless, homeless and hopeless.
Canada's solution: Fix it all.Simultaneously." Start at birth and continue through college. Canada asks what good is it to save one child and than send him into a neighborhood where every other child is failing.
He recognizes the power of peer pressure and calls it in this case, "negative contagion." Instead of saving one child, save all of them and establish "positive contagion." The Harlem Children's Zone serves 9000 kids. Students have smaller classes and, a longer school day and a longer school year than students elsewhere. Their teachers are paid more and given more classroom freedom. They are also held more accountable.
After school the kids take creative classes, Yoga, karate, etc. There is counseling in the zone for families in crisis, health care for the sick, emergency care, and affordable farm fresh produce. Of course all this service costs 50 million a year.
Two-thirds of that comes from private donations. Canada says, "The state spends about $60,000 a year to jail one inmate. someone yells at me because I'm spending $3500 a year on Alfred. Alfred is 8. OK, Alfred turns 18.
No one thinks anything about locking him up for 10 years at $60,000 a year." It's the concept of "positive contagion" that jumped out at me. Imagine a world where leaders had spent their formative years chanting to others, "Jump, jump, Fidel, we're glad you're here today." I used to teach in a wealthy white high school.
Even there we had a few students in deep trouble. When Richard entered my class he was fifteen and I had just seen him tear apart a chain link fence with his bare hands. I rescued him from his abusive family, physically. His social studies teacher then took him home to live at his house. He came to trust us, but his trust of the world was short-lived for he graduated back into the environment that created the anger that eventually sent him to prison.
I dream of a positive zone where all kids have time to create and are shown that they can feel safe year after year. I dream of world leaders who do not have to negotiate with and through fear.
© Evelyn Cole, MA, MFA, The Whole-mind Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org Cole’s chief aim in life is to convince everyone to understand the power of the subconscious mind and synchronize it with goals of the conscious mind. www.write-for-wealth.com