Sometimes I observe the most powerful learning in the most unexpected place. A couple of weeks ago, I visited some students doing field work at another school. What I expected to see was far exceeded by what I came to understand …
GRADEAID UF is a student-driven, non-profit organization developed to provide homework support and tutoring to students struggling. Three students from VRG Djursholm created GRADEAID as their UF (Ung Företagsamhet/Junior Achievement) company for 2017. Their mission is …
GRADEAID UF Mission: is to help raise the knowledge and motivation of students who today are not meeting the criteria to pass school. By providing free homework help, the company wishes to encourage young people to come to school, raise their knowledge, as well as give the students an insight into what managing school can mean for their future. The long-term vision of the company is that all young people will be able to contribute to a better Sweden by realizing their fullest potential by seeing themselves as an important member of our society.
Basically, their plan was this … to visit Järvaskolan each Friday morning during the spring term for 2 hours. They provide tutoring to students who are willing to come to school early and study for these two hours. The school provides breakfast and the VRG students provide the tutoring. This was a good plan, but what has happened has become so much more . . .
– the students from VRG and Järvaskolan have really bonded and talked about many topics beyond their studies
– the three boys from VRG have been so inspired that they have now inspired many of their other friends to follow along and act as voluntary tutors
– the GRADEAID tutors have also been employed as paid tutors during Saturday school and holiday school provided by Järvaskolan
– and now at the end of the year, as a prize to the students who have attended the most homework sessions, VRG and Järvaskolan students will participate in social activities together outside of school.
When I talked to my students, I realized they did not come up with a sustainable idea for their “company” before mid-December. And, even then, they were unsure if it would work. Yet, once they began working with the young people at Järvaskolan their idea quickly shifted from theory to practice. What they were maybe not expecting was to be so affected by what their efforts one morning a week could mean in results. Many of the Järvaskolan students are now working towards passing grades and are engaged and excited to come to school on Friday mornings.
The real reason I went to visit this field work was to discuss with the principal at Järvaskolan how we could continue this cooperation and the vision of these three students. While every UF company must “close” by the end of the year, they have asked VRG Djursholm to inherit the mission and continue their work. So, we met together with Helya Riazat and some of her staff to discuss the details.
What I expected to observe when I visited these students was a UF company in action (one that got started rather late). I expected to see VRG students tutoring younger students from another school. I expected to see a positive learning experience.
What I saw was true engagement from all students, sincere, meaningful relationships and joy. What I came to understand was the impact these three students were making. What I observed was the profound respect and effort my students were making to realize their UF company’s mission. They were not doing this for a grade, they were doing this because they believed it was really important.
And, what I was most reminded of was that often the most powerful learning takes place outside our classrooms and in the personal connection between people.