Community As Lab

CAN AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY BE A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT? In 2010, Cal Farley’s staff pondered how residents could extend science and arts learning outside the classroom. As they heal emotional wounds, youth also could develop hands-on skills to use in their future lives. The result was the development of the Community-as-Lab program. “Community-as-Lab is an effort to use the whole community as a learning lab for the youth,” said Cal Farley’s Executive Vice President Mark Strother. Essential to the program, Strother said, is understanding how the approach empowers residents by letting them make choices based on their interests. This helps engage them in their activities and shows them the power of their unique talents. “One of the main motivators in school,” Strother said, “is when you see the application in the real world. Getting residents involved in all of these things can motivate them back in math class, science class, history and writing.” Another way this highly accessible program benefits Cal Farley’s residents is through the positive relationships they develop as they learn from staff mentors and their peers. “They gain a sense of belonging, relationship,” Strother said. That’s a real key factor.” Xavier, 17 participates in the three-dimensional design lab, … Continue reading