WtS: Learning for the Community, Not the Individual

“What’s the Story” delves into addressing the skills and learning method that will last a life time, a teaching method that differentiates from a traditional classroom setting in significant way. Some of the skills that WtS approaches directly are Self Direction, Responsible and Involved Citizenship, Informed and Integrative Thinking, and Clear and Effective Thinking. Achieving these skills is an endeavor that doesn’t seem to be portrayed in a fashion similar to receiving a “good grade” in school, but instead are specific abilities that are worked towards. In examining these specific skills, “What’s the Story” provides an opportunity to understand our progression in each of these “assessments”. In Self-Direction, I really was presented with the possibility of expanding my Self-Direction, and work ethic. Since I was the only member in my social action group, I learned a lot about what Self-Direction actual meant, and how it pertained to myself. Instead of completing assignments in a timely fashion, I learned that the most effective form of Self-Direction revolved around gaining the most understanding or knowledge surrounding a subject. More specifically, altering, or approaching a subject in a way that garnered your interests, and working out of curiosity and interest to learn more about the subject seemed to be the most impactful form of Self-Direction. Following Self-Directing, a skill that is very closely related throughout this year’s cohort is Responsible and Involved Citizenship. The ability to maintain a relationship with the community, through understanding of what values are important to yourself, is a very important skill in terms of getting engaged in issues that occur throughout the community. On top of being able to become involved in community based subjects, I learned the importance of maintaining engagement in multiple points of views of an issue, and understanding who is impacted by an issue, or a solution. Informed and Integrative Thinking is also a very important adroitness that was taught throughout the year. Exploring credible information, and gaining the most understanding of a subject before creating an argument is an important part of addressing social issues within the community. Especially in a topic that has many layers, and many different, valid arguments, gaining as much knowledge surrounding the subject not only strengthens an claim, but also creates credibility. Finally, Clear and Effective Communication is also a valuable skill that we were taught throughout “What’s the Story” this year. Especially in creating a film, having the ability to create a valid, purposeful, and impactful storyline is both very important, and very difficult. Some of the factors that contribute to this “destination”, are engaging in understanding what makes a story effective, along with organization, understanding the audience’s perspective and having a purposeful arguement. Since these skills seem to pertain to many different situations, there is always significant room for improving application and understanding of these skills. Engaging in various communities is something that is very important, and I am always very interested in exploring, and understanding. Something else that I find difficult is remaining open to opposing arguments once I have created a claim, and I would like to continue broaching this subject.

“What’s the Story” presents a clear goal, and has an important and effective structure that addresses the above topics, but it also provides many opportunities to gain a wide range of skills, which can be both completely new abilities, and results of perusal of the above skills. Something that I have learned throughout this experience appeared during our interview section of this project. In reaching out to a wide range of characters I gained many new skills in conducting interviews, and having a conversation that gathers the most information in a span of an hour. Following the interview section of this project, I learned a lot about what makes storyboarding effective, and creates a desire to create change. Somethings that were advantageous in this section of filmmaking was storyboarding exactly what I wanted in my film, and creating a transcript of each interview, which I could plug into the storyboard based on the wanted structure. These helpful steps presented the importance of organization and structure in a project, and more specifically a storyboard. Something that I generally struggle with is time management, and completing projects on time. Having structure, and a solid plan contribute greatly to helping a finish project in a timely manner. I also began to perceive the importance of understanding what makes a film effective. Part of this gain in knowledge revolves around studying other documentaries, especially social action films that have an influential call to action.

In conclusion, “What’s the Story” doesn’t only represent a system that doesn’t apply pressure to receive a “good grade”, but much more importantly provides a once in a life time opportunity to discover skills that aren’t normally addressed in a classroom setting. This experience allows for students to understand what is means to learn, and how to do so effectively. In a classroom, where completely work on time, and receiving a good grade is valued, “What’s the Story” provides a tactic to gaining understanding surrounding skills that will benefit not only an individual, but also has the possibility to address a community.

Lena Ashooh

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