What do students need to find meaning in education?

Research shows that purpose adds energy, resilience and long-term fulfillment in both work and life. Is early exposure to a range of opportunities the key?
NBC Learn - Education Now Detroit: From opportunity to purpose

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Many students in high poverty areas do not see or experience much beyond their own community and neighborhood, which can inform their worldviews when they come into the classroom. But what would happen if these students had the opportunity to experience the diversity of the world outside their own neighborhoods? Ranging from applying learning to real-world contexts and exposure to different career pathways to experiencing diverse cultures, perspectives, and art, children need to know what’s out there, so they understand the opportunities that they can strive for.

For example, Detroit has a colorful history of art and music in the city, but are Detroit’s students able to experience this rich cultural history? Art and music classes were rare – if they existed at all – in Detroit public schools for years. Since starting in 2017, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti has been dedicated to restoring the arts in the district, and beginning in the 2018-19 school year, all K-5 schools in the district have either an art or a music class. In addition, the district launched a Cultural Passport initiative, partnering with arts organizations to give kids cultural opportunities around the city.

This discussion will also look at expanding a student’s world through professional and work opportunities, and how organizations are working to give students professional internships and experiences in Detroit to expose them to the business world and give them viable career pathway opportunities. Through expanded opportunities, students have the ability to explore their interests, develop their unique identities, and find purpose in their education and life. Exposure to a variety of opportunities can make education meaningful to students, as they can connect what they are doing in the classroom to the real world and what they are interested in. And research shows that purpose adds energy, resilience and long-term fulfillment in both work and every other area of life.

This discussion will focus on how expanding a students’ world not only enhances their educational experiences, but puts them on a path to purpose and leads them to opportunities they may have never known existed.

The panel discussion will be moderated by NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis, and joined by panelists:

  • Tonya Allen - President & CEO, The Skillman Foundation
  • Reginald Cole - Student, Mumford High School (DPSCD)
  • Khali Sweeney - Founder and CEO, Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program
  • Dr. Nikolai Vitti - Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD)

This discussion will be featured in the “NBC News Learn Presents: Education Now” live event in metro Detroit, MI on October 24. The full event will be livestreamed here -- stay tuned for updates.