Your Handbook for Building and Running a Young Writers Program

July 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

This is an awesome tool and handbook for developing and running a young writers program. While it is specifically designed for a free after school program (basically-free to run and free for the participants), it also has some very good lessons and advice for free schools and free school-related programs. I could sum it up, but instead I’m going to quote the document itself:

This handbook is written to help you to get involved. It is a tool that you can use to build your own writing program for under-served youth in your area.

You’ll start small, but have a meaningful impact. With time and experience, the program will have the potential to grow. In the beginning, you don’t need many resources. It takes a small amount of free time, which is a privilege that many people take for granted. My program runs two days a week for three hours, with an hour of travel time for me—the students come straight from school. Planning encompasses another two to three hours, if I’m on top of things. If you work part time, if your employer is supportive, or you can set your own hours, you can do this. My total investment has been between $100 and $200 over five months, but I haven’t been very active in finding donations. You can do this at no personal cost in anything but time.

In these pages, I offer tools I’ve used and others I’ve discovered. In this guidebook I share my philosophies, processes, failures and and successes. I will guide you in developing an educational philosophy and framework for the program or workshops you develop. I also offer you the advantage of my hindsight to help alleviate the challenges you will undoubtedly encounter and provide assurance that you are not, in fact, alone in facing these challenges.

This handbook was written by Jacob Lefton, who I went to school with. There are several things that I like about this handbook, but a couple deserve special mention.

The first is that this handbook strongly emphasizes community-based organizing and action. I strongly support this. To often, programs or movements that are going into undeserved areas depend on money-swinging benefactors. Obviously it can be important to do this because not everyone can afford to spend their own money or not fund-raise for these type of efforts, but two problems (can frequently) arise from this. The first is that the organizers become dependent on the people who supply the large amounts of money – and they must repeatedly give into what the benefactors view as how the program should work (instead of the program’s initial goals). This is not always true, but it does happen frequently. The second is that if it is not a community-based effort, there will be little trust from the community (why are these strangers coming into my community and trying to change it?) and there will be little effort/commitment from the community. If the community is actively involved in making and shaping the program, they will see it as a reflection of themselves – not as a program that some people are trying to force upon them.

The second is that, with the advice and guidance in this handbook and some grassroots fund-raising efforts, you could basically run the program for free. Awesome.

Well, I’ll let the document speak for itself, but you should definitely check it out – whether you are interested in this type of program or free schools. In regards to free schools, the philosophy is not 100% the same, but there is some wonderful information in the handbook that could definitely help in the planning, organizing, and upstart stages. Check the handbook out.

Posted in DIY and Further Reading.

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Entry filed under: DIY, Related To Free Schooling, Teaching. Tags: , , , , .

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