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education in small steps and full circles




Future Directions

In conformity with our mandate to work for social change through changing the cultural dynamics of the world, Micro Steps will undertake the following ongoing projects as funding permits.

Camps


Micro Steps will develop a curriculum for two to three week camps that will help set a sound and exciting foundation for life. In these camps, 11 and 12 year old children will study thought-provoking passages that reflect the common ground of the world's religions and philosophies. Many of these center on variants of the golden rule or the law of universality.  Critical thinking skills will be developed. Challenge education will be experienced and, as a result of the camp, children's reading skills will often improve dramatically..

Children's Rhymes

Every culture has children's rhymes or the equivalent. Many of the messages are neutral or positive in nature, but some are extremely negative or about history that has long past and has little relevance in the world of children today. Micro Steps intends to sponsor contests or create other incentives to create new children's rhymes for every numerically significant culture and language group.



HILL

HILL - Changing Second Language Learning Paradigms in China

Students in China are very diligent and are excellent at memorization. However the methods of teaching language are not sufficient for most students to truly acquire a second language. Out of this need, and with the help of a small army of TA's, a program was developed called Holistic Integrated Language Learning or HILL. This is a collaborative effort between Micro Steps and Guizhou University.

HILL uses a number of commonly accepted second language acquisition theories, assumptions and methods. HILL understands that the fear of "losing face" is a significant barrier to acquisition of a second language. Secondly, language is fundamentally used to search for meaning, therefore (at university level) using a language to search for meaning generates enough interest and enthusiasm to help students forget they are speaking a second language and begin to communicate in a naturalistic way. There are other assumptions and theories that we have structured HILL around, but these two are the most important, all embracing and likely responsible for most of HILL's success.


Underserved Communities

Educational Projects in Under-served Communities

In conformity with our mandate to work provide opportunties for underserved communities, Micro Steps will undertake the following ongoing projects as funding permits.

Support and Encourgement of Rural Preschools

Educators agree that children who attend  preschools jump start their peers who were not able to attend. Many countries in the world struggle with the cost of  elementary, secondary and high schools and simple do no have the extra funds to create and maintain the cost of preschools. In the early 1980's Mrs. Frances Fletcher began to train preschool teachers in Swaziland. Many of these teacher were absorbed into the growing private and religious preschools. Others simply went home and started a preschool in their comunnity. With little besides the knowledge they gained from the training, these teachers struggled financially and were not able to afford much in the way of school supplies. Our contribution to this educational endeavor is to purchase and deliver school supplies with a case worker to some of these  rural preschools.  The case worker makes unannounced visits to these preschools and quickly surveys the need. The case worker makes a list of what she determines would enhance the school and presents it to the teacher on the spot.

Libraries in Rural Areas

Education is a major expense to governments everywhere. In many developing countries, this problem is especially acute. Often the support for urban schools is greater than for rural schools. Many rural schools have a space for a library but no books to fill it. It is a rare occurrence, under such circumstances, for children to have access to books. Most lessons are delivered by the teacher, written on a blackboard and copied into a notebook. This project will place books in small rural libraries in developing countries where there are currently few, if any, books.

Educational Support of Orphans

With the world-wide spread of HIV/AIDS there are increasing geographic pockets of  large numbers of orphans. UNICEF, through studies, has determined that the best way to minimize further emotional trauma to such children is to keep them in their home villages where extended family and friends can continue to nurture them. The emotional and intellectual growth of such children is best served by trying to keep them in their home village and to educate them there.

Based on this, our approach is to focus on those orphaned young children who have been able to remain in their home villages or have been moved to a village where they have family. We will help, where possible, to sponsor children to attend school by paying for their school fees and school uniforms. As part of this process, we will do everything possible to create and maintain a healthy attitude in such children with respect to the gift of their education.

ESL / EFL

Many people are thirsty to learn English. Many countries have programs to allow children and adults to study English. We intend to produce materials, using short stories as a basis, to assist in this teaching. In conjunction with universities and governments, we will offer a large number of short stories that will be recorded in English and can be printed in both English and a local language.

We will also spearhead other ESL / EFL projects via internet based technoligies.

Micro Loans for Education

Micro Loans have proven to be an effective way to jump start economic  development. We intend to use Micro Loans to jump start educational projects that might not otherwise see the light of day. Implementation is some time off, but if you have interest or ideas in this regard, please contact us.

Educational Research Projects

In conformity with our mandate to work to undertake research that can change educational dynamics, Micro Steps will undertake the following ongoing projects as funding permits.

Simplified English

Among the thousands of existing languages in the world, English stands out as the most widespread "lingua franca." Why this is the case we will not debate, nor will we attempt to argue if other languages are better suited. Airline pilots who wish to fly internationally must know English. In the same way many academic disciplines use English as their "lingua franca."

However, when compared to a language such as Italian, the complexities of learning English are daunting. The primary reason for this is that Italian has a single sound-syllable relationship. This is not the case in English. In English, the letter "a" has many sounds it represents, as does "b" and "c."

Montessori 's methods of teaching children to write and then read, work well in Italian, but do not work so well in English.

Micro Steps intend to investigate the economics of the inconsistencies of English and to estimate the social and economic cost of  learning and learning disabilities that are causally related to the inconsistencies of English.

If you are interested in any of these projects, please contact us.