GATES: That's right. Fifty percent of our black children are not graduating from high school. Fifty percent. That's every other black child. So the situation is dire, and the condition is desperate. We have to try any innovation we possibly can to reach these kids. It occurred to me, given the response to "African American Lives"... You know, everybody is responding to this series. And why? Because your favorite subject is what? Yourself!
So why don't we use these same techniques to transform the way we teach history to inner-city black and brown kids--and science? We will incorporate a unit, probably a six-week unit, in tracing our own ancestry in the history class. Each week the kids will add another rung on their family tree. They'll go home and interview their parents--where they were born, when they were born, and [they'll] collect family stories and share them with the class. Then the next week their grandparents, and then the next week their great-grandparents, and their great-great-grandparents. Obviously, they won't be interviewing people who are dead. But they will be gathering family stories about what people remember, as well as what they can turn up in the Census, the tax records, estate records--you know, whatever. And it's marvelously interesting.
Given Harvard's support for open access publishing, I should be optimistic, but somehow, I am not!
Also, a good platform to let students publish the results of their research and easily access the work of their peers would be a very good thing -- particularly if the work and the curriculum were well cross-referenced and curated.