Study Gauges Teach for America Graduates’ Civic Involvement – NYTimes.com

January 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

This is an interesting study that addresses an issue of concern here: transfer.  In computing education, we worry a lot about transfer.  “If I teach them with Alice or EToys, will they be able to use real languages later?” “If I teach with a context like media or robotics, will they be able to program in their career when they graduate?”

This study looked at transfer from Teach for America.  Does Teach for America lead to enhanced civic involvement later?  The answer is “Not really.”  Some youth activism does transfer (like the Freedom Summer mentioned in the article), but that’s rare.  Transfer is hard in all forms of education.

The reasons for the lower rates of civic involvement, Professor McAdam said, include not only exhaustion and burnout, but also disillusionment with Teach for America’s approach to the issue of educational inequity, among other factors.

The study, “Assessing the Long-Term Effects of Youth Service: The Puzzling Case of Teach for America,” is the first of its kind to explore what happens to participants after they leave the program. It was done at the suggestion of Wendy Kopp, Teach for America’s founder and president, who disagrees with the findings. Ms. Kopp had read an earlier study by Professor McAdam that found that participants in Freedom Summer — the 10 weeks in 1964 when civil rights advocates, many of them college students, went to Mississippi to register black voters — had become more politically active.

via Study Gauges Teach for America Graduates’ Civic Involvement – NYTimes.com.

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All educational ideas are out there? The technical exists in the social context

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