Earlier this month, the City Year team and students at Issac Newton Middle school hosted a visit with Wynton Marsalis, internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. Wynton, who also visited Issac Newton eariler this school year, spoke to students about Black History Month, our shared heritage, and how we can get along better. He also spent some time learning about City Year and the role our AmeriCorps members play within the school.
He shared his thoughts on the visit on his blog - One-stop classes are fun but not as productive as return visits.
Below are excepts from his post.
On City Year:
City Year New York which brings a diversity of young people from 17-24 years old together to tutor, mentor and just generally serve as positive role models for kids. This is a fantastic idea. It inspires young adults and college-aged kids to be leaders and helps them to expand their horizon of aspiration through service. I find that it’s more impactful when younger kids are mentored by slightly older kids. It’s closer to an organic family dynamic with older siblings. Jacqueline and other City Year youngsters add to the positivity and progressive nature of Isaac Newton’s environment.
On our human heritage:
We understood that all people have at least two heritages, their ethnic heritage and their human heritage. And we discussed the differences between the two. They explained to me that everyone feels sad, everyone has thoughts and emotions, but not everyone worships the same God or takes the same holidays. They observed that our human heritage was more fundamental to being alive.
On Black History Month:
I am talking to a class of 6th graders about Black History month. We talk about practical aspects of history and why it’s important to know what has happened: so you don’t repeat the dumb things that have been done and you do continue to develop the intelligent things. We talk about how everything we do is affected by what came before, from practical matters like the sidewalks we walk on and the lights in a room to more abstract things like ways of talking, eating and listening to music.