A key moment comes in every classroom; independent of the discipline when students wonder why their teachers are teaching the material and what importance it will have for the student’s future. Some students circumvent both questions by focusing on achieving a grade, while others tune out. But reducing the exchange to a transitory transaction misses the greater purpose of education for all, which is to provide tools for students to define themselves and, in so doing, define and transform the world. One new tool that holds great promise for educators is Solutions Journalism. So what is Solutions journalism?
“Rigorous reporting about responses to social problems and their associated results”
Initially intended for professional journalists, Solutions Journalism both directs and arms the student journalists’ pursuit of answers. It directs because Solutions Journalism naturally focuses the search to find like circumstances that differ in outcomes. By comparing the outcomes, it forces the examination to learn why some are successful and others aren’t. The Solutions Journalism practice puts the student at the center of the action, which will increase student engagement.
“I make sure I don’t ask them [students] what they want to be when they grow up,,, I ask them what problems do they want to solve? What are you interested in solving? What spins in your head? How do you want to impact the world? …I want to empower them to believe that if they can focus on a problem and they can build the skill set that they need they can solve any problem that they want.”
This changes the conversation from whom the students want to work for; to what do the students need to learn.
The Solutions Journalism Networks site for educators, SolutionsU, also recognizes the ability of students to identify problems. But rather than “learning how to do that” Solutions Journalism teaches students how to recognize and measure solutions that, if adopted, could transform society.
Holly Wise, who teaches journalism at Texas State University and is the Solutions Journalism Network Director of Journalism School Engagement, shared with me the Journalism curriculums from Temple University, The University of Oregon and the Cronkite School at Arizona State University. According to Samantha McCann, Solutions Journalism Network Curator, those and the other resources available at the Solutions Journalism J-School will,
“…help you construct a traditional 16-week course, a 10-week or a two-week online course. You’ll find syllabi and schedules, classroom assignments and discussion topics, and rubrics for grading and assessments. You’re invited to download these documents and use them in developing your own solutions journalism course, or as modules to drop into your existing news writing curriculum.”
Additionally, Holly writes “…there’s also the new course through Poynter that is excellent as well.”
The course is for “anyone who is interested in news being not only about problems but also about solutions.” You must register to take this free self-directed course. More about Poynter.com, which is a great resource, in a future post. While you are in the registering mode, be sure to sign up to get updates on SolutionsU and join the waitlist for their beta.
Share your experiences and direct your questions and comments below!