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The Baraka School

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This involves analysis of a project called "The Baraka School." From 1996 to 2003, the Baltimore City Public School System teamed up with a local philanthropic foundation to establish and run a school in Kenya for select seventh-and eighth-grade boys. The Baraka SchoolThis school targeted students in the Baltimore area who were considered to be at high risk for adverse outcomes-such as school drop-out or incarceration.

The Baraka School was an experiment in discipline. In 2003 it was shut down due to security reasons. However, the experiment itself is a valuable study in discipline and what can be taught to children through introducing children to other cultures. When writing a research paper on the Baraka School, you will want to focus on what the psychological goals of the program was and whether or not they were achieved. Furthermore, with the emergence of the boys into a third world culture, what lessons were they taught beyond the obvious?

Resources on the Baraka School

Since the Baraka School experiment has been abandoned, finding sources may be difficult. Paper Masters suggests the following to assist you in finding information.

3 great resources that describe the Baraka School can be found here:

  1. A formal evaluation study of the school
  2. A feature article about the school in Time Magazine
  3. An article about the school in a local Baltimore paper

Methodology Behind the Baraka School

To Understand the methods behind The Baraka School, read more on:

  • 2 Articles on Symbolic Interaction
  • 1 Article on Social Theories of Rational Choice
  • 1 Article on Social Exchange
  • 1 Article on Social Capital
  • 2 Articles on Structural-Functionalism
  • 1 Article on Conflict Theory
  • 1 Article on Radical-Critical Theories

To write your research paper on the Baraka School using the sources mentioned, identify the implicit use of sociological theories within the School’s mission and methods to enhance at-risk students’ likelihood of high school graduation. More specifically, address the following questions with respect to each of the following bodies of theory:

  1. Symbolic Interactionism
  2. Social Exchange and/or Rational Choice theories
  3. Social Capital
  4. Structural-Functionalism

Questions to be answered in The Baraka School Research Paper:

  1. What are the primary skills, assets, or resources that the program tried to help students develop that might have increased their likelihood of graduating from high school? According to the theory, why are these resources important?
  2. What methods did the program use to help students develop these resources? How does the theory further understanding of how these methods should work? (Discuss specific program elements by pulling in information from three sources for this prompt)
  3. Throughout this discussion, make sure to note at least two ways in which the theories are similar and two ways in which the theories differ in their approach to various program elements (for a total of four thoughts of compare and contrast)
  4. Next, identify and discuss two ways in which a radical-critical/conflict perspective would critique the aims or methods of this program. Within this critical discussion, devote particular attention to the extent to which the program aimed to systematically bridge micro and macro levels of social influences on students’ lives.
  5. Conclude with a paragraph regarding how insights from a critical/conflict perspective could be combined with a main idea from one or two of the four other theories to have helped the school more powerfully achieve this claim.

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