This summer's Alumni Book Club pilot project was a true success. Four Inside-Out Alumni worked with approximately ten youth, reading The Ultimate Spider-Man. The group discussed topics as varied as responsibility, teen relationships, trust, gang violence, capitalism, and the makings of a hero. The reports from all participants were very positive: for the youth it was a chance to add an activity to their days, to read an interesting book, and to talk with new people. For the alumni, it was a chance to create a new program, engage in dialogue, and learn from the youth about teaching and facilitating.
We learned that working independently of a professor and starting a new program is both difficult and extremely rewarding. We have developed a very positive working relationship with the staff and leadership of the institution there, and have abundant and growing support for this program at the University, which purchased the books for the class. We learned a lot about the differences of working with youth as opposed to the adults in Inside-Out classes, and will continue to learn how to best design the program to meet everyone's needs.
Most important, for me, was a chance to get back into the classroom in an Inside-Out format. I love digging deep meaning out of a simple storyline, and inviting others to respond in kind. It is obvious that some of the youth have never had any kind of creative space in their own learning, and to be asked their opinion and encouraged to disagree is a novel thing.
We will begin the book club again in October, to run for eight weeks. We hope to have a larger number of alumni participants, and to generally improve the program.
Please comment with any questions or suggestions!