What is “What’s the Story?”

I have now been doing “What’s the Story?” for going on two years, and there are many reason’s that I will continue to be involved in this program. This program has played a great role in my development as a learner and creator, and will continue to do so. I’ve noticed the same amount of growth and maturity in others who have previously taken this course. I’m going to break down exactly what it is I like about this course, and why I think that the teaching styles used in it’s curriculum should be incorporated into public schools everywhere.

I would like to mention that I am a person who works well independently. I enjoy working at my pace, and staying on task until the assignment is complete. This course incorporates that learning style often, like right now for instance, we are writing individual blog posts in silence. It’s really awesome and I’m super focused. However, this course has pushed me out of my comfort zone a good bit, and has taught me how to work with others who are my own age or younger, and develop plans using the ideas and thoughts of multiple team members. One thing that’s really excellent about this course is that everyone cares about what there doing. This isn’t some required math class that people sleepwalk through. Everyone in this room next to me wants to be here. Everyone is engaged in their writing. Everyone want’s to be successful and recognizes the meaning and importance of this course.

We’ve had a schedule packed with work all weekend, and everyone’s stayed right on task and gotten so much done. I can honestly say that we’ve done more work here in the last twenty four hours, than I’ve done in some of my high school classes so far this semester. Not an exaggeration. So yes, it’s vigorous. However, when I look up, I don’t see anyone spacing out with absolutely miserable expressions, I see gears turning and eye’s locked to screens. Focus, lots and lots of focus. So even though we have so much work, we are all willing and anxious to do.

This course has introduced me to lots of cool people, and I’ve made friends with individuals whom I would have never pictured myself being friends with. Everyone in this room is very different creatively, and to see these people put their heads together and develop something meaningful, regardless of differences in personality and ideas, is really great.

The space we work in is fantastic. This secluded area has amazing lighting, and visually is very calming. There are literally no distractions. I feel much more motivated and energized here, but at the same time I also feel so relaxed and comfortable. There’s also always really good food at these meetings, which is always pretty great.

I have much praise for this course, however, I don’t think this is for everyone. People who have a strong passion for social justice, and would like to see change in their communities should sign up for this, but someone who is indifferent and doesn’t feel close to their communities might not thrive in this type of environment. There’s so much communication and presenting and feedback involved with this project, because obviously everyone in this room is doing their best to succeed and wants to create the best documentary around there subject as possible, because they care about their message. Someone who is nervous and has trouble speaking in front of people may not like this course as much for that reason. To that person, I would say that everyone here wants you to do well and support your work, so there is little to be afraid of, and that they might find that it’s worth it to step out of that comfort zone and give this kind of thing a go.

The people who run this program are all mostly teachers, but they don’t using the typical teaching approach in this course. We don’t really get weekly assignments (with the exception of blog posts, and nothing is really graded. We refer to them as “mentors” and every social action group is assigned one mentor, who will help and guide the group through their learning experiences. It’s the students who take the reins though, and develop every step of the process. The mentors don’t interfere or shut down any ideas, everything is considered and created by the students. In the featured image I’m shown with my group, sitting with another social action group, discussing changes and improvements that we can make to our documentaries and over all stories. The mentors would step in  and make comments or add suggestions from time to time, but that’s it. We had a thirty minute long conversation regarding idea developments all on our own, and we never went off topic. It was incredibly helpful.

I think a lot of people should sign up for this course, just to see what its like to be in this type of environment, really. You may like it, you may not like it, but you’ll never know unless you try it. I’m glad I did.


Side Note: This course will also look fantastic on college applications. Just saying.


Brynna Kearns

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