Involve them; they will understand

Published 12:20 am Monday, February 12, 2018

An old familiar Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” We have seen examples for years that reinforce the reality of this statement. Accordingly, American society has evolved from teaching only the elite to our current efforts and legislation in mandatory education for all children.

Another familiar Chinese proverb states, “Tell me, I’ll forget – Show me, I’ll remember – Involve me, I’ll understand.” Again, example after example may be found to demonstrate reality for this statement as well; however, in this case it may serve as an indictment of our current methods of instruction. Our lecture-based style of teaching has failed to produce the long-lasting effects of effective education, or even the memory of some basic facts for many of us.

The traditional methods have largely impacted the way that almost everything is done in our traditional systems. This carryover has influenced even the supplementary services such as career days. Most of these efforts to stimulate students’ awareness of professional opportunity have involved local business persons, higher education representatives, and delegations from the various armed services in any given community. Each group sits at a neatly clothed table usually in straight rows with ‘favors’ of sorts, be it candy, pens/pencils, or decals to take as a memory from an adult who took their time to “Tell” superficially about their career opportunity. On occasion in recent years, there have been more pictures, posters, or at times photos or videos to “Show” the opportunity. It is, after all, human nature to continue to do things the way we have been taught until we discover another way.

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The program that is being developed by Natchez United and the Natchez-Adams County Educational Development Foundation through partnership with the Natchez Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez-Adams County School District’s P-16 Committee is ground-breakingly different. This partnership to host “Natchez-Adams County ‘Showing the Love’ for Our Children” will be a departure from tradition. It will be a day for our children to “Find [Their] Passion/Commitment” through becoming involved in a broad range of professional activities. This passion may then lead them to the perfect career of a lifetime!

The Netter Center at the University of Pennsylvania ( and the Coalition for Community Schools ( have been collecting the research to support the impact of community involvement through engaging students in “real world” learning opportunities. Through the support of the Natchez-Adams County Development Foundation and the elaboration of Natchez United, area professionals have begun to understand the importance. This understanding has become the basis for meeting each Tuesday evening to plan the beginning of such involvement through the Career Day.

The Natchez Adams School District Administration has accepted the invitation. Leadership from NASD and Natchez United are collaborating to set the date which is anticipated for late April or the first week of May. The District has requested that the date be arranged after the testing window so that they may dedicate the next couple of weeks to doing the best possible in this year’s state assessment. When set, the goal is to hold the event at the Natchez Convention Center where a winding maze of professional encounters will be arranged to allow students to experience activities that provide understanding for the many and diverse options.

We need parents, teachers, administrators, and community professionals to join us in creating the most effective and inviting event possible. We will be meeting this week to divide into career cluster teams and to identify leadership for each team so that we may move ahead. Each team will establish the best strategy for developing their area. We look forward to seeing you Tuesday.
Dr. Marvin Jeter is an educational consultant and a member of Natchez United.