By Scott Walker Cunningham
“Scott, want to look at my song I wrote?”
Da’Quan asked for my attention on Wednesday morning in the photography and digital media room at Studio 345 for the third day of the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) Digital and Media Literacy summer camp. The low-lit room showcased high-quality equipment including DSLR cameras and MacBooks for each student, professional photography lighting and printing gear along the cool gray walls, and a large, flat-screen like projector at the front of the room displaying the day’s schedule. The place seemed prepared for a professional seminar.
Instead, the mechanized meeting room pulsed with vibrant young toddlers busily writing in notebooks on a Technicolor of yoga mats across the floor, young teens on apple red and green seats seeing what the other bought off the app store last night, and high school students sleepily acclimating to the energy levels of the room. Through the early blur before the morning meeting, Da’Quan walked up to me with a few verses and a chorus drafted in a notebook filled with his songs.
I met Da’Quan only two days before, and already he wanted to share the deeply personal if not a bit disjointed rendition of emotions that are high school song lyrics. It struck me how willingly he opened himself up along with his binder, asking for some communication through my simple set of eyes and a smile to say, “This is good. You should keep working on it.”
Now I think back on the color, energy, and untapped talent of that entire room. As an intern at the ASC, and immersed in the pedagogical conflicts of our day as a member of Allison Dulin of Davidson College’s Education Scholars Program, I wonder what impact I can make for the kids I work with, and what sort of form that should take.
Too new to the game to understand the complexities of meeting the needs of our young, I’ll steal an elegantly simple answer from my supervisor, ASC Vice President of Education Barbara Ann Temple, Ph.D., who told me, “Every student deserves dignity and respect as a human being.”
Muffled by the flood of neon research lit statistics on the increasing achievement gap of our day, it’s easy to forget that every individual owns a voice that can often go unheard. While we need specialists, initiatives, and outreaches for supporting the future of academic development, sometimes students want a chance to share their words as well.
Let’s remember to listen.
Scott is a rising junior at Davidson College with an interest in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and the arts. His hobbies include creative writing, photography, acoustic guitar and most things athletic.