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mbul.gifAbout Problem Solvers
mbul.gifWHAT IS COMMUNITY BASED LEARNING?
mbul.gifSome History
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About Problem Solvers

Participants might discuss and come up with various solutions to community problems submitted earlier by members of the community.

The following excerpt from Another Way, a fiction book published in 1997 and authored by Margaret Bohannon-Kaplan, the co-Founder of the Harry Singer Foundation, explains it best:

"You said something about Problem Solvers a couple minutes ago? Could you explain what that is?" Mario requested.

"It's a school-based club that attempts to solve problems in the community. High school kids make recommendations based on research. At Mapleton High, the Problem Solvers cooperate and coordinate with the teachers involved in community-based learning, which is something somebody else will tell you about before the day is over, I'm sure. But I'll give you a brief rundown on a couple of last year's Problem Solver projects.

"Problem Solvers discovered that for the amount of money the city was paying street sweepers to post temporary signs and to knock on doors to inform residents of an annual cleaning, they could put a regular schedule on permanent signs and provide regular monthly cleanings.

"One of our elementary schools wanted an all-day kindergarten but there was no room at the school and no money in their budget to pay a full-day kindergarten teacher. Parents and teachers at the school met and the best they could come up with was applying for federal funds. That pot had already been emptied, so they decided to let the Problem Solvers have a go at it. We did a lot of interviewing and discovered a big problem was that working mothers had to leave work in the middle of the day to pick up children at noon and schlep them to daycare across town. We got input from all the people affected: neighbors, parents, employers and groups that care about giving kids a good start in education. We came up with several recommendations."

"Like what?" Mario pressed.

"Like (1) having the affected employers donate to the unfunded rewards and recruiting volunteer drivers. Like (2) getting volunteers to remodel extra space in a retirement complex in the neighborhood for a daycare center. That way the morning kindergartners wouldn't need to be driven across town. As a bonus they could get attention from the many older people in the neighborhood who we discovered were eager to assume grandparent roles while assisting graduate students at the nearby Teachers College who jumped at the hands-on educational experience involved in working with kids suddenly next to their own facility." Janet paused to catch her breath.

"What happened?" asked Bill.

"The recommendations were made last year and long range plans are being worked out involving the University, the business community and the retirement complex and of course the school. Meanwhile mothers no longer leave their jobs because the various employers rented a van and the kids are being chauffeured to their multiple afternoon destinations by volunteers from Mapleton Cares, an AW organization." Janet realized she had wandered from her subject, trading, but decided to add one more thing.

"Problem Solvers has a talk show on Mapleton's most popular radio station. There just happens to be five schools involved in Problem Solvers so each hosts a show one day a week. Callers suggest problems and discuss possible solutions on the air with the students. We have a virtual media blitz solving community problems here in Mapleton."


Ideally the Problem Solvers are mentored by a teacher or adult coach who believes in what is known as experiential or community-based learning. The debates would be incorporated into the curriculum of an existing class offered most likely by English, Government, Political Science, Social Studies and Sociology Departments on high school and college campuses. Problem Solvers might also interest Speech, Journalism, and Communication Departments.

We publicize the students as well as the cooperating media on our web site and send everyone a certificate of recognition. We also invite participants to our headquarters in Carmel so they can exchange experiences and share ideas.

 

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