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Out-of-School Learning Experiences Featured in New Essay Collection

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By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

A new collection of essays published by the Bankstreet College of Education aims to inform best practices for learning outside the school day. It takes readers on a trip, with stops in Hong Kong to find out what young people do after school (not just study), in Philadelphia to check out the Sister Cities GirlChoir,, and in New York City for a leadership-development initiative, among other places. As Bankstreet notes, better information on what works in learning beyond school is especially important in light of limited federal and state government budgets.

The volume, "The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out-of-School Time," features 11 essays that look at the time young people spend at home, in out-of-school programs, and in other activities outside the regular school day. The Occasional Papers Series from Bank Street College, a private institution in New York City, focus on different topics related to education and equity.

In her introduction to the compilation, Jennifer Teitle, a scholar based at the University of Iowa Graduate College, writes, "we wanted to explore the value of these pockets of time outside of school...Educators have given relatively little scholarly attention to young people's nonschool lives."

Each essay brings an individualized approach to understanding out-of-school learning. Here's a quick sampler:

  • "What (and Where) is the 'Learning' When We Talk About Learning in the Home?" suggests that researchers should develop methods to measure how individuals learn from everyday, informal experiences and life events and examines how learning occurs at home for students from six different families. 
  • "Global Childhoods, Asian Lifeworlds" looks at after-school time in Hong Kong, to find a correlation between this time and the country's high-achieving students. The analysis finds that, rather than engaging in one activity for great amounts of time, the students participated in a wide range of activities. "Thus, the commonly held view that Asian students spend most of their time doing schoolwork and little time engaged in leisure activities is not borne out by the survey results."
  • "Building After-School Islands of Expertise in 'Wrestling Club'" explaines that, according to research, "differential opportunity for children to pursue expertise is a major contributor to the knowledge gap between children from neighborhoods of poverty and children from neighborhoods of privilege." To further study this claim, the author looks at literacy learning in public libraries and the role that these programs can play in helping children develop an area of expertise. 
  • "Enhanced Participation: Creating Opportunities for Youth Leadership Development"  explores the characteristics of youth leadership development and the experiences of emerging leaders by conducting interviews, focus groups, and an arts and research project with participants in a youth-development project in New York City. The author finds that, while out-of-school organizations do not in and of themselves create youth leaders, "they can create spaces and opportunities for youth to come into their own power and potential."

Other essays include everything from a study of an after-school improvisation workshop at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles, Calif., to the role cities can take on as a playground for youth. 

A full list of the papers in the 30th edition of Bankstreet's Occasional Papers Series can be found on the organization's website.

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