What happens when a community learns?
Understanding grows. Mutually-beneficial partnerships emerge. Challenges like an ever-changing job market, food insecurity, inequity of services, and the disparities that exist between the rich and poor are diminished because Community Centers like Carver are no longer characterized as serving the under-served. Instead, they become the very place that attracts learners from all walks of life to learn together. At Carver Center, all boats rise because our expectation is collective excellence.
We have recently adopted the Carver Learning Continuum that reflects our commitment to excellent programming for all stages of life. We’ve renewed our commitment and allocated resources to support: Infants & Toddlers, School Age Children, Tweens & Teens, Adults and Seniors. Each client is unique, with a preferred learning style, state of readiness and ability, and the same is true of our community which extends beyond the geographic boundaries of Port Chester. Our clients are diverse socio-economically, culturally and in life experiences. None is more valued or more influential than another.
In 1920, L.V. Hanifan published “The Community Center,” outlining the critical role such organizations stood to play in their surrounding communities. Recreational, social and educational offerings were prescribed in hopes they would improve the overall quality of life within a region. Simultaneously, cutting edge American schools were embracing the Progressive Movement, one that valued a more student-centered ideology and espoused experiential learning in ways previously unexplored. Nearly 100 years later, schools are still searching for ways to actualize Progressive philosophies, and community centers still subscribe to the same programming ideologies.
So, what has changed? The world has changed; and it has changed dramatically.
In 2017, we have access to more information than at any other time in history. We know more about how the brain works, and how our needs change at various stages of our human growth and development. Technology is everywhere and our brains are continually being rewired as a result of our engagement with new tools. We are more interconnected with our next-door neighbors, and with our neighbors around the world than generations who have come before.
So what’s a Community Center to do? Evolve. We must identify our most powerful lever and pull it. Carver Center’s lever is, and always has been, learning. Since our inception 75 years ago, we have been focused on Building Brighter Futures, so now we must practice news ways to pull the learning lever.
We must be more than an organization that serves unconnected, independent learners, and so we must think and act as the Carver Community of Learners we wish to become. We must engage in collaborative inquiry and embrace our membership in the larger global community who we can learn from, with, and about. We must use research as the basis by which we create a gold standard of programming, and we must honor our clients’ voices.
So what does our community want to learn and why? How, when, and with whom can they learn most meaningfully? It would be unwise to assume that we could answer these questions on the community’s behalf. We must model inquiry and inquire. As such, we are about to embark upon a landmark Carver Needs Assessment and we invite your voice, and the voice of your family, into this process. If you are reading this communication, we are seeking your thoughts, so please be generous and share them.
At Carver Center we are becoming a Community Center for the future, and the future is now.