Sunday, January 12, 2014

An educational alternative for maritime possibilities

Alternative education. Used to be that phrase had a particular connotation. The kids who were just this side of juvenile detention or jail were in alt ed. Or the kids who were too troubled, too challenging (for teachers to manage), too something went to alt ed.

But alternative education just might be regaining some of its historical caché as educators and community leaders look to alternative education as just that: an alternative for kids who need more or other. Once upon a time this might have been called vocational education.

I remember vocational education when I was in high school, way back in the day. Those were different kinds of shop classes. Almost always the domain of boys. Made infamously famous in Grease and other such movies. A place for the "bad" boys (depending on one's perception of "bad" then and now), or the boys who weren't smart enough to cut it academically. Pejorative stereotypes, in any case.

But how cool is it that a group of community leaders and invested individuals are creating a non-military maritime high school? Dawn Turner Trice wrote of this educational alternative in her January 6 column of the Chicago Tribune.

I love this idea. I love the idea of kids getting work on boats first-hand as well as learning about the theory. And, that as they build this school, the leaders say they're "not just looking to give them certificates, but we want them to have a good background in science, technology engineering and mathematics." They also recognize there many occupations in the maritime industry. "Our kids can be marine biologists, deep sea divers, engineers, carpenters, pipe fitters, welders, mechanics. They can work for local shipping companies or become the captain of a big cruise ship. We want our kids to be trained for jobs locally and around the world."

And the kids will learn more about the environment, the importance of rivers and lakes, and the environmental impact of keeping those rivers and lakes clean.

What I really love most is the opportunity for kids to learn that the world is so much more than their neighborhoods and may lead to possibilities they don't yet know exist!

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