Almost everyone is familiar with the African saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." However, there are very few "villages" that actually engage in this practice. The educational assets of the village include the knowledge of neighborhood residents, the clubs, groups, and associations that are citizen-based learning environments and the local institutions (businesses, not-for-profits, and government bodies). They all provide incredible learning opportunities. It is these neighborhood educational assets that are activated in a village that raises its children.
In most communities, however, these invaluable resources are unused and disconnected from the lives of young people. It appears that in one to two generations, villages have lost their power to raise children. Their functions have largely been transferred to schools. This transfer is reflected by the fact that in the last generation, schools have been asked to take responsibility for the health, safety, food, recreation, behavior, moral values, and entrepreneurial development of young people.
This Kettering Foundation working paper by John McKnight, codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University, presents some of ABCD's research in assisting people in local neighborhoods to identify the local teaching knowledge.