National Writing Project

Writing a More Just Future: The 2014 USN Conference in Chicago

Date: March 27, 2014

Summary: This broadcast featured site-leaders from the Illinois Writing Project, hosts of the Urban Sites Network Conference in Chicago. They provided an outline of events and a preview of opportunities for learning and connecting at the conference, scheduled to take place April 25-26, 2014.


Excerpt from Show

Lila Leff, Founder of Umoja Student Development Corporation and plenary speaker at the Urban Sites Network Conference, on how she responds to people who want shortcuts and easy answers to complicated issues:

What is true is that, when we ask the wrong questions, we get the wrong answers. So when the questions that get posed to us are things like: 'Well, whose fault is it: the teachers or the parents?', 'Which thing has to happen: college education or career preparation?' What we know is, it's complicated. It, by rights, should be complicated. It's complicated to be an adolescent anytime, anywhere, at any point in history, and it's certainly complicated to transition into adulthood at this time and place in history. So we need to recognize and respect that there are multiple levers that all have to be operating at all times. It's a war that has to be fought on many fronts. We can't simply say, 'You know what? We're just going to focus on this one particular piece.' That's why, for us, academic rigor has to be paired with critical thought and social-emotional learning, and all of those other things that people refer to as 'non-cog' skills now."

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