Thursday, January 31, 2008

Project Citizen--Is it over?

Now that the Project Citizen presentations are over it is time to reflect on our experience. Here are some thoughts that students had:

What did our class do well--
"Our class provided plenty of research and detail on the imortant fact given. From our problem statement to action plan; we always had research backing (our position), which also limited questions from the panel"

"We researched ourproject well and didn't leave any part out. We even researched problems that might occur during our policy"

"We were able to back up all of our information with research and I think that made a huge difference"

"All of our answers were very specific and did not leave anything left unanswered"

"In the beginning of practicing speeches, we weren't very good. Over time though, I thought we got better each time"

"Everyone was very serious about being on stage in front of important people"

Project Citizen is about the process and not the end result. What that means is the learning is never over. If a water policy would be enacted, then what? Does that mean that your job is done. As a citizen we all need to take the responsibility to make our communities better. It can be done through volunteering, but it can also be done at the local policy level. Project Citizen has hopefully taught the lessons of how to make real change in a community. Through organization, research, and knowledge ordinary citizens can make a huge difference. Another value that needs to be emphasized is persistence, because change usually takes time. How persistent are we? Will we use what was learned in Project Citizen to become more responsible citizens? Is the Project over?

Friday, January 25, 2008

What is success?

As we approach our Project Citizen presentations I think it would benefit us if we think about what it will take to be successful in our presentations? I'm not just talking about the four presenters, but rather, the entire class. Each one of us had a role to play in putting together the presentation, whether it was in designing the poster board, organizing the binder, or creating the wiki. Did you do the best that you absolutely could do to complete the task you were given? If you were unsure of something did you ask a classmate or me to clarify your concern? Were you concerned about putting forth your absolute best effort?

If you answer YES to each of these questions then you should go into the presentation with a calm confidence knowing that you have done everything in your power to prepare. If you answered NO to each of these questions then you are more likely to be less confident and more nervous going into the presentation resulting in a greater likelihood that the presentation will be a disappointment.

What should define success? My favorite definition of success comes from probably the greatest living coach and teacher--former UCLA bacsketball coach John Wooden. He never defined success by the number of national titles he led UCLA to (10 in 12 years), or how long a winning streak he could engineer (88 games in a row, and 38 in a row in national championship tournament play), or how many perfect seasons he could lead UCLA to (4). Coach Wooden's famous definition of success is "the peace of mind derived from making the absolute and complete effort to do the best of which you are capable." [The Essential Wooden, McGraw-Hill, 2007]There is nothing about winning in his definition because winning is not the same as success. You can win a game, but play terribly and not deserve to actually win. Should that be considered success?

My hope for the Project Citizen presentations is that we experience real success, not because we get positive feedback, but because of the effort we put into the project and a recognition that we have learned some valuable lessons about how we can make a positive change in our community.