Exploring Human Potential

Access Excellence

Posted on | April 10, 2008 | Comments Off on Access Excellence

Nurturing as an anecdote to bullying This week’s program on bullying in our nation’s schools has touched a vein and drawn an immediate response from young and old alike. The damage done by bullying extends into the future. The messages I received reinforced that disconnection and anger and despair are predictable byproducts of lives absent hope, or joy, or passion and interest in what the future may hold. Bullying is real, and prevalent in our society and throughout the world. In the US, it directly impacts nearly 10% of our population.
But it is important to acknowledge and reinforce that many of our citizens, young and old, on a day to day basis, show great courage and goodness toward each other and those in their local and now virtual communities. This is exhibited in their day to day lives in many small and quiet ways and also exhibited in the ways they organize, associate and convene with each other in the pursuit of fuller lives of meaning.
One great example of constructive virtual relations on the high school level in Access Excellence, headed by the National Health Museum’s Director of CyberEducation, VivianLee Ward. As the site says, "Access Excellence was launched in 1993, as a national educational program that provides health, biology and life science teachers access to their colleagues, scientists, and critical sources of new scientific information via the World Wide Web…When Access Excellence moved to the National Health Museum, we made a commitment to expand the scope and reach of the program to even broader teaching communities…(Including expanded student involvement with the site)…The efforts of the Access Excellence program to enhance science education have been extremely successful, resulting in recognition by national educational organizations and the media as a model program of private sector support. With the ongoing support of NHM, as well as other interested donors, Access Excellence will continue to evolve and grow, while maintaining its well-earned reputation as a truly important contribution to high school science education."
This growing and constructive virtual community is linked together by a common interest, science education. In addition to a unifying vision and a desire to build out that vision, AE was structured for success and from the beginning was deeply collaborative. As they say, "Guided in the first phase by a panel of education and scientific advisors, Access Excellence enhanced biology teaching by providing a computer network forum on which teachers could share their innovative teaching ideas and activities, accessing information, expert assistance, and the advice and experience of other teachers to create new ideas and best practices. Each year for the first three years of the program, the National Science Teachers Association chose one hundred Fellows to assist with the design and development of the program and the online forum, and to conduct outreach to other teachers. In 1997, the Fellows program was discontinued so that resources could be focused on the electronic forum on the World Wide Web. The core group of 310 Fellows continue as active participants and mentors, and new individuals and teaching communities are invited to participate via the Web."
I’ve been honored to be included in this important effort for the past three years as head of AE’s "Health, Science and Society" section.

Through this virtual platform, inclusion and dialogue with high school students is encouraged. As one example, take a look at this interview I gave a few years back addressing whether I thought today’s kids ought to consider a career in Medicine, and if so, what might that involve.
My point is this – bullying reflects a societal failure on an individual, family and community level. But Access Excellence reflects a societal success on an individual, family and community level. Things don’t "happen to us," but rather are the result of our actions or inaction. We do have the capacity to create a better, healthier, more socially connected local and global human family – especially if we properly leverage new information technologies. But these things don’t happen on their own. As I mentioned to a group of graduating college students a few years back, they require positive leadership — especially at times such as these.


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