I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Marco Torres present many times over the years and I never get tired of hearing about the amazing things he is able to do with students. Or rather seeing the amazing things he helps his students accomplish.
Marco was our keynote speaker this morning.
For those who haven’t had the chance to hear him speak, Marco teaches social studies at a high school in the San Fernando area of Los Angeles.
His neighborhood is a challenge to say the least. His students come from a high poverty, highly undereducated, high Latino, with poor English language skills population. (As he showed dramatically on data maps created by his kids.)
However, while too many schools in the US lose or write off students from backgrounds like this, Marco teaches them to use creative visual and audio tools to tell their stories and those of the neighborhood around them.
The results are moving and funny, often at the same time, many receiving high praise from people in media businesses. The examples he showed this morning were as good or better than anything you would see on MTV or the cable news channels.
In between the videos, Marco talked about how he challenges the students to think creatively and work about the obstacles they encounter. It sounds like he also challenges the teachers at his school.
It’s hard to imagine any faculty these days convening a committee to decide the number of pages to be required in student research papers. As we saw, there are so many other ways for them to display their learning.
As a side note, I love the new slogan he’s decided to adopt: Be distinct or be extinct (as spoken by Enda Mole from The Incredibles). It’s advice we need to encourage for all our students, no matter their economic status.
Go take a look at products from the iCan Film Festival in which the works of many of his students are featured.
It offers some idea of just what is possible when we help kids release their creativity.