RiverTides’ education programs support culture and place-based literacy through consultation, research and curriculum design. Education literacy programs are also supported through donations of books and other educational materials to enrich local school and community libraries and to provide free books for children to take home (see Mustard Seeds).
RiverTides’ education programs are built on three integrated, guiding principles: a foundation of strong literacy skills, the development of positive social and cultural identity, and understanding of the foundations of healthy and resilient community. Taken together these three aims work to give children a clear voice, formally validate their own experiences in education, foster a greater appreciation for their own heritage and the diverse heritages of others, and facilitate a sense of agency and responsibility both within their communities and in the global community.
Today’s children are growing up in conditions that will present new and different challenges. They will need to learn new ways, master new skills, and recover more resilient and enduring patterns of living. Understanding the foundations of healthy community life is a part of this. For schools, it is a time that requires critical review of notions about education. This is especially true for children and youth from marginalized communities or under-served areas as they are likely to be the least prepared and most vulnerable in these transitional times.
Literacy Pilot Project
This project models the school as the example of community life where history, culture, and people come together to pursue common goals. It uses critical engagement with books to bring awareness of the values and intricacies of community while developing strong literacy and discussion skills through structured writing and open questioning. The aim is to get children more involved in thinking about their school as a community and as a reflection of their local culture and history, and also to provide them with the foundations for strong reading and writing skills necessary to succeed in their studies and in life. Initially, children of seven to eight years of age will be the focus. The project creates curriculum materials for individual schools following research and consultation with local educators. A future phase of the project will offer schools that have used RiverTides’ materials the opportunity to exchange stories with students from other parts of the country and internationally.