I’m not sure, in sum, that those working on character development as a linchpin of better educational outcomes for disadvantaged kids see this connection with how curriculum is written and delivered. Perhaps I’ll understand things differently when I finish Tough’s book and read further on the KIPP approach. But my hunch is that few such educators are facing the brutal fact that poor schools often have terrible curricula and compliance-focused pedagogies, no matter how caring and hard-working the teachers are. And so, to ask kids to persist in the face of boring and isolating work conditions is not only somewhat hypocritical but borders on cruel. It certainly isn’t preparation for a successful life – it’s not enough to be REALLY good at delaying gratification and trusting adults. You have to have a passion and a purpose, and typical schools often work against it.
I’m proud that Harvest is definitely not one of these schools.