Before we talk about the Learning Principles that can guide the quality of afterschool and summer programs, let’s take a look at our own history.
Much of what I will share about the history of afterschool was inspired by a small but very important book by Robert Halpern entitled Making Play Work. I highly recommend this book which can be purchased on Amazon.
There was a time in our history when few children even went to school. Most children stayed at home to help their families with the work that the family did to maintain and survive. Our afterschool story starts before school and afterschool. It starts with the period of industrialization in the late 1800’s. This was a time when so many people moved from the fields, the crafts and light manufacturing; from rural areas in America or from other countries to the cities where factories were being built and new jobs were being created.
This was a time when children were vital to the survival of many families and they contributed their labor by helping their family make ends meet. Prior to industrialization, this meant working beside their family members, assisting in their work and learning the necessary skills to assume greater responsibilities. As the workplace shifted to the factories, children were no longer working beside family members…
…but rather taking their own jobs, standing by their own machines, working the small spaces in the mines that adults couldn’t reach, hawking newspapers and other goods on the streets.
In the early 1900’s, as people recognized that the heavy use of child labor was not in the interest of the children, families, or their communities, a movement began, state by state, to child labor laws which moved young people out of factories and mines.
During this same period, a growing number of states enacted laws that made school attendance compulsory, resulting in a quickly expanding system for public education. For the first time, attending school became the standard expectation for many children.
When school was out children emptied out on the streets. If children were not in factories or schools in the afternoons, where would they go? Thus, with school came the need for afterschool. This was the time that organizations stepped forward and created afterschool programs to support young people and families in the out-of-school hours.
During this period was the growth of the Progressive Movement, which promoted the idea that children were more than just small adults and that the phase of childhood is an important time of life. We saw many of our first programs for youth in the settlement houses, such as those established by Jane Adams.
During this time people promoted the importance of play– that was not just unproductive foolishness to young people’s development. The idea of building places especially for play was a new concept to many, but that is what began to happen during this period.
A wide coalition of child-saving reformers including social settlement house workers, progressive educators, and child psychologists urged municipal governments to construct playgrounds where the city's youth could play under supervised and controlled conditions. Playground reformers believed that supervised play could improve the mental, moral, and physical well-being of children, and in the early twentieth century they expanded their calls into a broader recreation movement aimed at providing spaces for adult activities as well. Municipally controlled parks and playgrounds included trained play leaders and planned activities as well as special facilities like gymnasiums, fieldhouses, and swimming ponds.
Art was deemed an important and worthwhile afterschool activity. (Above) this is a familiar image of children around a table painting and coloring…
In this picture you see that finding dedicated space, which is such a problem for afterschool practitioners, was also a problem back in the day…
It is assumed that the push to assisting kids with their studies by providing homework help is new, but it is not.
We can see that afterschool was born in response to a new social need that was fueled in part by labor laws, compulsory education and the need to provide support for tens of thousands of new immigrant children. Afterschool continued to respond to the issues of the day and that is a long-running theme that continue today. Here are some examples:
WWI: Filling in for loss of services in the schools due to budget cuts In the 20’s, there was a concern of how to acculturate the new masses of immigrant children
30’s and the Depression: the issue of the day was child hunger. Youth services after school were seen a as way to ensure that young people received a square meal at least once a day.
During WWII, many of the men went off to fight in the war. Women quickly moved into the workforce and many afterschool programs provided the needed childcare.
Over the decades, the focus continued to be on disadvantaged children. In the 80’s and 90’s, funding streams for afterschool programs were defined by a rolling list of deficits and a framing of “youth-as a problem to be fixed” and “youth services as problem-busters” The issues of the day:: alcohol, drug and tobacco prevention, early teen sexuality, pregnancy prevention, crime and gang violence, and the more recently academic underachievement and school failure.
In looking over the first half century of afterschool, we see themes that are similar to the ones we have today: An on-going tension between school and community - should afterschool be an important counter-point to the school experience? The on-going pressure for afterschool to over-promise in order to address the issues of the day and the deficits of other institutions – a problem in light of the fact that afterschool programs have always been under-funded and undervalued. The funding of afterschool not seen as the work of government, instead the work of charities and private funding.
Other Themes: There is a reliance on a part-time, low-paid and volunteer workforce There are concerns about professionalization, standard methods and quality And this question of outcomes: what should afterschool be responsible to show as outcomes? While these things sound familiar to the issues of today, these were raised as issues in the 20s and 30s.
In 1992, the Carnegie Corporation published a seminal document that made a case that afterschool programs were a critical support for young people and their families.
One of the major findings of this study was the examination of how young people spend their time. It revealed that children have more discretionary time than previously thought. Discretionary time actually exceeded the time that children spend in school. Thus, discretionary time should no longer be seen as “throw-away time”.
It is in fact an important developmental time–a time that poses potential risks…This report introduced the research that revealed the spike in juveniles being victims and perpetrators of crimes between 3 and 4pm in the afternoon. . This is when we began to see law enforcement step forward as important champions of afterschool programs.
Law enforcement leaders knew and gave strong testimony that they could not arrest away crime by young people. Thus, high majority favored the provision of more afterschool programs.
Nationally, there were a number of issues that came together to create the “perfect storm” resulting in the large scale support of afterschool programs: - A concern around rising crime and the safety of young people, - Changing households where many were led by single parents; an increasing percentage of women in the workforce; and the fact that many households had parenting adult(s) that were working one or more jobs out of the house and were not at home in the late afternoon This was accompanied by the failure of the public schools to educate their students, particularly those in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
This public consensus that afterschool was important for children and families and worthy of public investment helped fuel the 21 st Century Community Learning Center initiative, one of the fastest growing social programs in this country’s history. This rapid growth was also seen in California, as voters passed Proposition 49, which provided over a half a billion dollars for the development of thousands of afterschool programs using state tax money.
Any thoughts or comments before we move on?
The afterschool movement addressed the issue of risk faced by young people who had nowhere to go in the afternoons by greatly increasing their access to afterschool programs. We believe that the Learning in Afterschool & Summer learning principles promote the learning opportunities in the afterschool hours. These principles suggest that learning should be active, collaborative, and meaningful…
…Support the mastery and expand the horizons of participants.
Once again, here are the keywords representing the LIAS learning principles. Now let’s dig down and unpack what these words mean.
Please gather in groups of 5 (assign 1 of the 5 LIAS learning principles to each group). Each group member does the following: 1. Read silently to yourself the text that describes one of the LIAS learning principles that was assigned to your group. 2. Underline or circle what you think are the key words or concepts, especially those that speak to you, and think of one program activity that promotes this concept. 3. Within your group, take turns by each person identifying one word or concept they underlined and why they thought it was important. If the person before you talked about the word that you were going to discuss, see if you can choose another word or concept that you underlined to discuss with the group. 4. Choose one person to represent your group. This person will report out to the larger group the meaning of the learning principle and why it is important. Large group discussion (optional): Ask people to respond to the following questions: • What is most the most important element of Learning in Afterschool for you? • What is your program already doing? • What are you taking away from this presentation?
Let’s take a few minutes to look at the question of intrinsic motivation and concentration, and in what settings young people are motivated about their learning and also concentrating at the same time. Researcher, Reed Larson, conducted studies on these questions around the world. He did this by giving young people pagers and asking them to journal the answers to a couple questions regarding their motivation and concentration at that very moment. He was interested in what settings stimulated young people’s motivation and concentration. His findings weren’t intended to serve as a critique – they just reflected on what young people reported…
The first setting is in school: where we see a negative report of motivation and minimal concentration. This is particularly reflected by the young man in the back.
When young people are able to freely socialize with their friends, they report a high level of motivation but minimal concentration.
When young people are involved in sports, we see an elevated level of both motivation and concentration. We can assume this is mostly true of young people who are actively participating which is why youth development experts urge coaches to play all of their players.
When young people are involved in art and hobbies, they attain their highest level of motivation and concentration. One only has to look at the face of this young man to validate these findings. He is involved in a bike repair group that is part of his afterschool program.
Any thoughts or comments before we move on?
We urge you to get involved if you believe these principles are important to the field of afterschool and summer programs and if you feel like these principles should guide the future of afterschool and summer learning. You can go to our website and: Follow the Blog Access tools, research, video Become a co-signer to promote quality learning in afterschool Follow on Facebook & Twitter
History of Afterschool and the LIAS Learning Principles
For more information: Visit our website atwww.learninginafterschool.org
HISTORY OF After School ProgramsRESPONDING TO THE ISSUES OF THE DAY
HISTORY OF After School Programs ISSUES OF THE DAY• WWI: Large Budget Cuts to School Programs• 20’s: Introducing Popular Culture to Immigrant Youth and Children’s Emotional Health
HISTORY OF After School Programs STUGGLE FOR IDENTITY• Counter Point to School Structure• Pressure to Promise More Compensate for Others• Underfunded and Undervalued• Privately Sponsored and Funded
HISTORY OF After School Programs STUGGLE FOR IDENTITY• Reliance on Part-Time and Volunteers• Concerns About Professionalization, Standard Methods, Quality• Toward What End: What are our Outcomes?
Unpacking the 5 LIA LearningPrinciples1. Read the descriptions to yourself2. Circle words/phrases that really speak to you3. In a small group, share your words and why you chose them4. Have a discussion about: • What is most the most important element of Learning in Afterschool for you? • What is your program already doing? • What are you taking away from this presentation?
Toward a Psychology of Positive Youth Development Research Paper: Reed Larson, Univ. Illinois Publication: American Psychologist, Jan 2000 Study:Developing initiative as an exemplar learning experience. Intrinsic Motivation & Concentration