Bates in the News: Feb. 20, 2015

Michael Sargent

What Lewiston needs is fewer slogans and more excellence

Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Sargent writes an op-ed for the Sun Journal questioning the effectiveness of cheerleading marketing campaigns, like Lewiston-Auburn’s long-running “It’s Happening Here” campaign, that try to alter a city’s reputation.

 

Psychology professor Michael Sargent confers with volunteer Molly Pailet '15 of Denver, Colo., prior to The Corner, a monthly storytelling event at Guthrie’s in Lewiston. Sargent is event founder and host. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Psychology professor Michael Sargent confers with volunteer Molly Pailet ’15 of Denver, Colo., prior to an installment of The Corner, a monthly storytelling event at Guthrie’s in Lewiston. Sargent is event founder and host. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“…This community needs fewer cheerleaders singing its praises, and more people just doing the best they can to do good work,” writes Sargent, who has lived in Lewiston since 1999 and teaches a course that touches on community reputation.

What can help to change people’s perception of a city like Lewiston, he writes, is “excellence in craft.”

In other words, the goal to “cultivate a stronger, more complex and more interesting image of the community” can be achieved by focusing on “the work in the trenches that local folks are doing to advance their respective crafts…. Whatever you make or whatever you do, do it as well as you can, and find partners and mentors and do it even better. If enough people here in this community do that, people here and elsewhere will eventually notice.”


Mara Tieken

Rural schools need their own policy approach

Assistant Professor of Education Mara Tieken joined other education experts to talk about Maine rural education on the Feb. 11 edition of the Maine Public Broadcasting radio show Maine Calling.

Tieken is the author of Why Rural Schools Matter, which draws on her investigation of two rural school districts in the South to explain the complex relationships between rural communities and their schools.

Education professor Mara Tieken and students visit the Edmund S. Muskie Archives to examine Lewiston school district archives, including census logs, superintendent reports and student portfolios, part of the course “Perspectives on Education.” (Sarah Crosby/Bates College)

Education professor Mara Tieken and students visit the Edmund S. Muskie Archives to examine Lewiston school district archives, including census logs, superintendent reports and student portfolios, part of the course “Perspectives on Education.” (Sarah Crosby/Bates College)

Over the past several years, a number of rural Maine school districts have consolidated into large regional districts. The goal is to save money, but what can be lost is a sense of community identity.

In terms of public policy, education leaders should think about the fact that “in rural areas there is such community involvement in schools.” Policy makers should “play on that, use that and protect that,” Tieken says.

In terms of curriculum, Tieken notes the “increasing standardization” over the decades. “What’s taught in one area is very similar to what is taught in another area.”

That’s positive because it’s more equitable for students. “But there is good research showing that when a school’s curriculum is grounded in the local context, kids are more involved, the community is more involved, and there are benefits for everybody.”

 

 

 

 

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