By Danny Wyatt
When I surveyed the ENG 200 class last fall, the most common topic students chose as interesting and a concern that affects Hawaii/Oahu/Waianae was homelessness. Since it is a topic that also is a nation-wide problem, I elected to work on this topic in the Problem Based Learning format (I’ve attached the handout “Change of Focus” that explains that which I gave to students as that may be helpful). After breaking the class using the “highly technical scientific” approach I have found most successful (divide up the class in as much of an even balance of 1) those who work full-time and have kids; 2) those who work part-time and have kids, 3) those who work no kids; 4) those who have kids but don’t work formally and 4) the more traditional younger students who don’t have kids and don’t work). Groups tend to be about 5 students max as best. Then I gave them the following list of beginning questions to get them started:
What seems to have led to the increase in homelessness both in Hawaii and on the mainland?
Who makes up the homeless population?
What has been the approach to dealing with homelessness thus far?
What has been successful in reducing the homeless population?
What social and legal problems are resulting from increasing homelessness?
What health problems are stemming from homelessness?
What keeps people from entering shelters?
How successful is the homeless shelter system?
What makes the area between the boat dock and high school the place for homeless?
Why are people still living on the sidewalks downtown?
The Problem – A presentation for our political minds
There are still thousands of homeless living in Honolulu and everywhere else on the islands and millions on the US mainland. What can be done to cost-effectively get the homeless off the streets and in housing?