Random Thoughts

about reading, writing, and anything else that interests me

Learning from TED: January 1, 2013

I decided I needed to get started right away on my plan.  If I wait…  You know how it goes!

I watched Jeff Smith: Lessons in business … from prison.  This was a short talk and will probably just be the first of many on the subject that I watch.

Smith, who spent a year in prison, spoke about the “untapped potential” and ingenuity found in prisons. As an educator in a prison, I see this every day.  And, like Smith, I am frustrated by the fact that so little is done to help people find legitimate ways to use that ingenuity once they are released.

So what did I learn from this talk?  Maybe it isn’t so much what I learned as what I was reminded of.  I am going back to work tomorrow after two weeks off.  I had been thinking about how much I was dreading that.  Smith’s talk reminded me of WHY I do what I do.  It made me think of the women I work with who sincerely want to figure out a way to stay out of prison once they are released.

Smith closed the talk saying

So I hope that you’ll think about helping in some way.The best thing we can do is figure out ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and the tremendous untapped potential in our prisons,because if we don’t, they’re not going to learn any new skills that’s going to help them, and they’ll be right back.All they’ll learn on the inside is new hustles.

We have talked about trying to offer a course in which women could learn about starting and running their own businesses.  But there are a million hoops to jump through before that could happen.  It would be something to work toward, though.

Meanwhile, we tell ourselves that we are doing something by helping women get their GEDs.  And we are.  But that is only one piece of the puzzle.  We need to do a lot more if we really want to make a dent in our recidivism rates.

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