Using the Lobster Culture to Advance Education

The respectful lessons learned at Deer Isle-Stonington High School could be transferable in application to other rural high schools in America and help them provide meaningful, culturally-valuable educational pathways for their students and communities. ‘The Atlantic’ reports. Jim

“Three hours from Portland, Maine, and two hours from the state capital of Augusta, picturesque Deer Isle has two towns on it (Deer Isle and Stonington), a combined year-round population of about 2,500 people, and not a single fast-food chain—or any chain store for that matter. Those who live beyond the narrow, turquoise suspension bridge connecting Deer Isle to the mainland are called PFAs (‘people from away’), even if they work or attend school on the island.

“At the southern end of the predominantly middle-class, overwhelmingly white island lies a small but bustling harbor. In 2015, Stonington port brought in $63.8 million worth of lobster, landing it the title of Maine’s no. 1 commercial fishing port…

“This maritime culture isn’t just for adults. It seems as though every single young person here works full time in the summer…

“In response to a particularly dismal year of dropouts, a team of DISHS staff, teachers, and community members launched a school-wide improvement plan in 2010. The plan included a concerted effort to prevent course failures, more formalized teacher collaboration, and the creation of the marine-studies pathway. With an emphasis on project-based learning and real-world experiences in the community and on the water, the marine-studies pathway allows students to take up to 75 percent of their core-curriculum requirements in classes aligned to their interests. Students can explore traditional academic topics through marine themes: They can learn algebra and geometry through boat building and navigation, write argumentative papers about winter flounder fishing, and study U.S. history through the lens of the fisheries…”

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/how-lobsters-are-keeping-students-in-school/503642/