People & Resources in Student Welfare
June 3, 2007 10:47 PM   Subscribe

I am deeply interested in education - not teaching, but in student life and welfare, as well as alternative/non-traditional education. How do I learn more about those issues? Which people are prominent in the field? What resources do I have?

Some example issues of the above are: ace for grades, college choice, career choice, being overloaded with extracurriculars just to enter a prestigious university, anything alternative education related, education policy, etc.

I've been scouring different Brisbane (Australia) universities' staff profiles, since I live there, but no one I found seems to be working in those areas. Almost all the resources on those topics are American. I have contacted a few places but haven't heard anything from anyone. I'm particularly interested in specific people who research or work in this field.

Examples of people I'm after:

* Denise Clark Pope, who wrote Doing School and organizes the Stressed-Out Students Conference (we've corresponded a little bit but she hasn't replied to my latest email)

* Loren Pope & Marty O'Connell from Colleges that Change Lives (I've corresponded with Marty a while ago)

* Marilee Jones, ex-MIT Dean of Admissions who was in the news recently for lying on her resume - she was a big advocate of choosing colleges for their suitability not their name (I would LOVE to talk to her...but I can't find any contact details)

* Nel Noddings, author of The Challenge To Care In Schools

* Grace Llewellyn/John Taylor Gatto/John Holt - regular names in unschooling/homeschooling (I've tried emailing Gatto but apparently he doesn't read emails anymore. Missed a chance to meet him directly. Damn!)

* The folks at Education|Evolving (shot them an email, waiting for a reply)

also: how else can I get involved in this area? I'm currently a Creative Industries undergrad. I was thinking of doing an Education degree but the ones here are focused mainly on teaching. (I could get a Grad Dip with my current degree, but I need a year's worth of related work experience...which requires the Education degree. bah.)

I also write a blog about related issues (see profile) but I feel like I should do more.

Ultimately I would like to raise awareness of the issues students in Malaysia (where I'm from) face in school that get overlooked - stress, choosing uni courses, work-life balance, etc. Only now has the interest been piqued in the national mindset and it's critical that this awareness is raised. That's the main reason my blog was set up. However, I would like to get a stronger foundation, and network with people that could help me out.

What can I do? Shadow as someone's research assistant? Read as many books as I can get my hands on? Move to America and transfer to Stanford since that's where most of them (Denise Clark Pope and Nel Noddings especially) seem to be hiding? What else am I missing?
posted by divabat to Education (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I know next to nothing about what the unschooling environment is like in Australia, but all unschoolers that I've ever known have been more than happy to talk to people about their experiences, and no one unschooler has the same experience as another. Email some and see if you can come along to some of their activities and/or talk to them individually. I'm not sure how helpful this will be, but a quick google turned up a link to Australian unschoolers
posted by someone else at 11:27 PM on June 3, 2007

A few people I'd talk to:

- local high school counselors: here in the States, these folks often have a huge influence on what classes students choose and where they "aim" after high school finishes, *especially* for first-generation college students who don't have a family member who can guide the way with forms, financial aid, exam practice, etc.

- university admissions/outreach officers and tour guides: these folks are ambassadors for college recruitment and, in my experience, really try to connect people with the resources of a college - I can talk more about my own experience in an e-mail, if you'd like

- those involved with alternative high schools, be they alternative for rejecting high-stress exam-focused classes in favor of more collegial, in-depth courses (probably more possible in places like the States, which don't have official national exams for completing high school in most cases), or alternative for working with specific populations (GLBT teens, students into the arts, new immigrants, bilingual/multilingual people), or alternative for some other reason (a boarding school with a long history and lots of wealthy alumni, say, might be considered just as "alternative" as an after-school academy run by local teachers to work with local high-school dropouts pursuing their GEDs, when compared to the "normal" high school

- those involved with what is often called "HESA" here in the States - higher education student affairs: because many first and second year university students in the US reside in dormitories, there's a whole network of student and professional support people who try to make sure the residents are getting the help they want or need, everything from making sure the building's being maintained properly (no one likes studying in the cold!) to negotiating roommate disputes to counseling students on health and wellness...the list goes on and on (again, feel free to e-mail if you want a little more about my personal experience with this as a student and as a "resident assistant"

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 11:59 PM on June 3, 2007

My uncle - Alan Smith - specialises in / created the field of Education in Conflict situations. He has taught in Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and other hotbeds of fun, games and warfare and how education can be sustained in such places. He's also the holder of the UNESCO Chair in Education at his university.

He's a very approachable man and you can find more about him here, as well as his contact details.

You've favourited a lot of my questions, it's the least I can do! =P
posted by PuGZ at 3:36 AM on June 4, 2007

Ms. Iurodivii completed this Master's degree

Social Foundations of Education

email me and I can get you in contact with her if you want to know more or chat with her about it...
posted by iurodivii at 6:55 AM on June 4, 2007

Here are two books that radically formed my thinking:

1. "Summerhill" (dated and politically-incorrect at times, but still very challenging to educational norms)

2. "How Children Fail" (should really be called "How Teachers Fail")

These books are, on the surface, both about educating young children, but the principles apply to college-aged students, too.

From these books, and from my life as a teacher and student, I came to loath most of the trappings of traditional education. I don't believe in grades; I don't believe in required courses; I don't believe in lectures.

Note that if your ideas become as radical as mine, you'll have a hard time finding like minds (I'm WAY more of a pariah via my educational views than my atheism.) And you'll get tired of the silly educational debates that go on all the time. They generally stem around whether this textbook or that textbook should be used. They never question whether both textbooks should be burned, and the whole system should be scrapped and re-created from scratch.
posted by grumblebee at 7:06 AM on June 4, 2007

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