Celebrate Labor Day with partnerships and models

August 22, 2014
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The Business Journal offers an intersect in reporting this week, in regard to new education initiatives and the upcoming national holiday.

The coming week celebrates both education, with the start of a new school year, and the national holiday dedicated to “the social and economic achievements of workers,” as Wikipedia defines Labor Day.

Consider the Mini Maker Faire sponsored by half a dozen groups — Wolverine World Wide, Cascade Engineering, Mutually Human, Tektron Tools, Taco Bar Co. and Adam Bird Photography — in partnership with Grand Rapids Public Museum Aug. 30 and 31. Creative thinkers, “tinkerers” and inventors, including a group of Allendale students demonstrating their robotics skills, will be joined by the Geek Group, GR Community College and Genesis Inc.

Also consider the fact that the museum buddied up with Grand Rapids Public Schools last year to offer the “Museum School,” an intense themed school (like several others within GRPS) with a place-based curriculum including math and history studied against a backdrop of community legacy. GRPS is taking applications now for the start of school in 2015. 

These developments, among other examples, are offered against a backdrop of continuing political brawls over education issues including funding and curriculum. The Business Journal asserts that it only serves old-think politicians who see it as a method to make enough noise to get noticed and then elected, or re-elected.

Another example is in the report on “coLearning,” a project that became the educational arm of the collaborative Grand Rapids workspace The Factory. Factory founder Aaron Schaap last year developed coLearning to teach business, technology and design to those using the workspaces. After completing various stages of application with the state of Michigan for official trade school or proprietary school status, Schaap also is receiving high praise and state interest in developing his format for future Michigan educators. 

Schaap told the Business Journal, “Literally, the state is calling us right now, saying, ‘We have people that we know are taking your classes, but could you involve them in your ecosystem because, for some reason, you guys can generate jobs and we can’t.’ They’re doing an average of like a 40 percent job placement rate, while we’re at like 70 percent.” 

Schaap further explained the job placement rate as a result of a “transformative experience” that connects students to a network of professionals. Creating that connection is how students find jobs.

As long as new partnerships and models continue to be developed, “the social and economic achievements of workers” will continue to give reason for Labor Day celebrations. 

Old-think politicians and their constituents will still be arguing, confined by the concrete walls of ideology as rote as memorization of the three Rs.

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