Mission Impossible

Breaking the impossible mission into small bites, each broken down into a yes/no question and working through an exercise based on the CBT thought record, with evidence for each answer.    

Is the idea or premise of the project sound?

Yes.  The premise that children thrive and are eager learners and peer-teachers when they are listened to and encouraged to be autonomous has been shown many times.  I have demonstrated this in dozens of sessions in public school after-school programs.  Take a look at Sugata Mitra’s great work for an engaging and much more scientific demonstration.  Teaching others yields the highest learning retention (90% vs. 30% for demonstration) of any teaching method.  (While this seems intuitively true, see this)

cone of learning

The organizing principle of the program is  basic and almost too simple to need much explanation.  People like to be listened to, children, in particular, need to be heard, have their competence acknowledged.   The role of adults at the workshop is primarily to listen to and encourage children’s ideas.  In a room where teamwork proves to be the most effective way to work, and is also much more fun than working solo, cooperation takes place naturally.  Where there is excitement to do something, and a working method in place, the thing will get done.

Does this translate to the educational and social development gains you tout for this program?

The evidence here is incomplete but results in the rooms where workshops have been held strongly suggest that it leads to these gains.  The potential of the program is great, and student enjoyment of it, and engagement with it,  almost universal, so far.

How is this program different than other programs that use animation with children?  

Those programs offer structured lessons taught by adult teaching artists who guide the children step by step through a given technique. They function in the traditional teacher imparts knowledge to student model where the student then demonstrates what they have learned by carrying out the instructions.  

In my program the children are the artists, with access to an array of materials and media, and they learn by observation, discovery and invention.  They quickly become the teaching artists themselves when they solve problems and help another student with something they’ve mastered.

Have you made progress marketing?

Yes.  I have redesigned the website which has been universally regarded as an excellent improvement over the old one and something that shows the program in action, expresses its essence colorfully and explains it, within ten seconds or so.  Czech it.

I am producing postcards, a brochure and a short, beautiful book in children’s book format showing the program in action.    I overcame many technical hurdles to design the website and get it on-line and, seeing the concept and shape of each of the other marketing materials I need to make, I am confident that they too will be beautiful and engaging.

Hate to ask a mean question, but have you had business cards made yet?

No.  While they are cheap to produce, and any card is better than none and I can always have a better set done later, I have been stymied by design challenges.  A pathetic excuse, I am well aware.  They are at the top of my list of marketing things I need to design, even though I did not include them on my list above.

Any luck going down your checklist of things you need to do to advance your mission today?  

No, none so far outside of this exercise.

Is it possible to sustain a strong belief, even with something that works exactly as you envisioned and designed it, and has the potential everyone you’ve been able to show it to has grasped at once, in the absence of another person who believes in it too?

No.  In the long run, no.  And this is a long run.  That’s why my next task is reaching out to several strangers to see what I can do in that crucial department of meeting people who will be engaged by the program and what it can do.   Truly, that is the most important single task ahead of me right now.

Will you get on it right now?

Yes, of course.

Rob:

I got your name from (  ) who met you at ( ).  ( ) thought you might be a valuable person to speak with about my program, an educational nonprofit I am in the process of launching.

Based on the principle that adults listening to children is a powerful motivation, the wehearyou.net student-run animation workshop has been embraced by children (and in one case adults with chronic disease) in the dozens of workshops we’ve done. You can see some of their work here (link)

I am in the process of recruiting adult facilitators and collaborators.  I believe that Social Workers and Art Therapists have a skill set that would make them ideal in this role, and that they would also derive a lot from participation in the program.

If you’d be willing to talk to me, I’d be much obliged.  Email me here or call ( ) at any time.   

format for contacting organizations:
 
Discovered your program recently and admire the work you’re doing.  It’s amazing to me that [insert particular amazing thing here]  more people don’t see the connection between collaborative creativity and improved social and life skills.   Congratulations on your great work.
 
I’m in the pre-launch stage of a nonprofit program with a mission similar to yours, a stop-motion animation workshop for public school kids ages 7-11.   The kids collaborate, like a [compare to their actual work], and do all aspects of production, using computers to create what are essentially digital flip books.   You can see some of their work here:   http://wehearyou.net/
Of course, the animation is in a way a bi-product and organizing principle.  The real deal is the kids working as teams, teaching each other, spending a couple of hours in an encouraging​, creative space where imagination and technical precision are two interlocked aspects of good work.
 
If you have some time to speak with me, I’d be grateful to hear more about how you developed your program from the initial inspiration and first steps to a sustainable program.  
 
wehearyou.net works exactly as designed, kids take to it immediately wherever we’ve done it, but I could use some ideas and guidance about how to get it up and running on a wider scale.
 
If you’d be willing to talk, email me back or call me any time ​
at (  ), whatever’s easier for you. 
 
In any event, know that your success is an inspiration to my fledgling organization.

Book plate1-FINAL flat

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