Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Influence

The Boys of Baraka

I watched The Boys of Baraka a couple evenings ago. The film focuses on the education of a handful of pre-teen (or "tween") boys who were raised and educated in the inner-city ghetto in Baltimore, Maryland and then follows the boys' attitudes and educational performance during and after one year of special schooling in Kenya, East Africa. In the end, some boys appear to have escaped Baltimore's staggering black, teen male statistics of early death or jail time, while others struggle to complete their high school education.

What is the answer? How can we improve such negative inner-city statistics?

As with many problems, the solution is multi-faceted. As the film suggests, a large portion of the problem is environmental. Family, neighborhood, and school system are all at fault.

These children have "incomplete" families. They are raised by one parent or grandparent while should-be parents are in jail or on drugs. In some cases, these single caregivers do not have the education themselves to know the most positive and effective ways to encourage the child to set educational goals.

Neighborhoods are filled with drugs and violence.

The school system is not succeeding in positively motivating the students to think beyond what they've learned at home or on the streets.

The idea of the Baraka school is to take the children away from this negative environment while adding adults who demand student responsibility.

At the end of the film, an extra interview with Bill Cosby sums up the solution. Cosby says, "Put a body [or person] on them." In other words, I am again referencing in this blog the need for a one-on-one knowledageble caregiver with a growing child.

As a public library employee in the inner city, I again wonder ... How can we reach the child's home caregivers?

I hope to discover some answers to this entire issue as well as appropriate actions to this particular question while working on my assigned Emerging Leader project.

Participation

The New Year grows nearer and nearer and yet, I have received only two comments on my blog. I have asked for participation from various professional contacts and past professors as well as notified both of my alma maters via alumni news. I even made an annoucement on one of the listservs today. I am not quite sure if there is any other appropriate place for me to market this blog.

While I find value (and pleasure) in documenting my experience in this program, I really think it would be interesting to collect ideas on leadership from various professionals throughout the online community.

I can only hope that my contribution will someday also be valuable to others.

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