Meeting Students Where They Live: Motivation in Urban Schools

Meeting Students Where They Live: Motivation in Urban Schools

Meeting Students Where They Live: Motivation in Urban Schools

Meeting Students Where They Live: Motivation in Urban Schools


Motivation and hope are two items in short supply in many urban schools. But it doesn't have to be that way, according to Richard L. Curwin. Based on input from teachers across the United States and on his own personal experiences, Curwin offers suggestions that every school can use to keep students in the classroom and looking toward a brighter future.

In Meeting Students Where They Live, Curwin urges teachers and administrators in urban schools to move away from a focus on control, uniformity, lack of tolerance, and ironclad rules toward an approach based on compassion, understanding, tolerance, and safety for all. Each chapter examines problems common to urban schools and offers comprehensive, long-reaching remedies, plus concrete strategies for engaging troubled and hard-to-reach youth.

Meeting Students Where They Live explores ways to

• Welcome all students,

• Build lessons that involve and engage,

• Stay motivated and energized,

• Design assignments that students will actually do, and

• Use evaluation to encourage and build learning rather than defeat it.

Meeting Students Where They Live also includes classroom activity sheets submitted by teachers working in a variety of urban environments--from inner-city schools to a detention center.


Many years ago, while living in San Francisco, I visited the home of a principal for whose school I was doing a long-term training program. She lived in a beautiful part of Maine. Standing in her backyard, as we looked out over a pristine lake and part of a lush mountain range, she said to me, “Now, you have to admit, this is more beautiful than San Francisco.” I responded, “Your view is spectacular, I admit, but San Francisco is far more beautiful to me. When I look at your backyard, I see beautiful things, but in the city I see people—lots of different people—and to me, people are more beautiful than things.”

I have heard it said that the “real” America exists in small towns, but for me, everything that is quintessentially American can be found in cities, from their diversity of people, language, food, and culture to their strength, resiliency, resourcefulness, and, yes, problems. If the fabled American melting pot exists anywhere, it is in our urban centers.

Some people might wonder why a book on motivating urban students is necessary, given the plethora of existing books on motivating students. Are the differences between urban youth and their suburban and rural counterparts really that significant? Certainly television, advertising, the Internet, music, and the proliferation of chain stores have had a homogenizing effect on children. Regardless of the environment in which they live, their style of dress, the way . . .

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