This is Dr. Jerry Stein’s third contribution to the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development Vision 2020 blog.
Learning Dreams is continuing to create a culture of learning outside of schools by building a learning system that makes it easier for families to connect with existing community resources to make their dreams a reality. Often times, people struggle while navigating obstacles that prevent them from achieving dreams like learning to drive or read. Working collaboratively with the Hennepin County Library, Learning Dreams has made great strides in finding new, creative ways to reach out to families and support their dreams. Since my last blog update, we’ve been busy with many exciting events and projects throughout various Hennepin County Library locations – strengthening the role of the library in many people’s lives as a revered system of learning much as it did in its earliest charter.
One successful way we’ve been able to reach students and their parents is by partnering with the East Lake Hennepin County Library branch on their Homework Hub program. While volunteers and students are busy working through homework problems, Learning Dreams volunteers (sporting t-shirts that say, “i Dream at the Library!”) are available to talk to students, parents and library volunteers and staff about their dreams and connect them to resources to help fulfill these dreams. By working with everyone including volunteers and staff about Learning Dreams, we’ve been able to help create a community of learners within the walls of the libraries. We’ve even been invited to meet parents at their homes to support learning within families. “Learning Dreams makes what looks impossible, possible,” said one of our participants after they met with a neighborhood educator to discuss their dream.
Outside of the library walls, this past fall we reached the wider community through a month-long “Learning Dreams: Art + Community + Curiosity” exhibit at the Hennepin County Government Center. The county’s Multicultural Arts Committee worked with Learning Dreams and FORECAST Public Art to showcase our “Dreamcycle” – a trike-powered kiosk that met participants at libraries, the state fair, and on street corners to inspire them to realize their learning dreams – which were featured as part of the exhibit. Dream posters were also displayed, sharing all the learning dreams the community has submitted since our partnership with the Hennepin County Library began at the beginning of the summer.
Other projects in the works include a Google map of learning, which will be interactive and visually highlight all local learning activities including non-profits, after school programs, businesses, churches, arts programs, off-beat educational centers, and individual teachers and tutors. This map of learning aims to build connectivity between libraries, individuals and nearby places where they can learn. It also makes it easy for people to see how learning is richly placed throughout all areas of the community and discover unexplored avenues for making their dreams a reality. Both inside libraries and in the community a person’s learning dreams is a powerful tool to move them forward along their life’s path.
Check back for more updates as we continue our exciting partnership with the Hennepin County Library to strengthen support for lifelong learning and school success through local learning opportunities within the community.