Recently in Education Category

Poor, Poor, Field of Education

IMG_0554.jpgThough I have been in education as a teacher and administrator for almost two decades, the title of an article published in the December issue of the American Educational Research Association's "official" journal demonstrates exactly why I have never been to AERA's annual conference.

"(E)pistemological Awareness, Instantiation Methods, and Uninformed Methodological Ambiguity in Qualitative Research Projects"

If you just must, you can find this surely riveting article in Educational Researcher 38.9 (December 2009): 687-700.

Survey Says? Youth Need Support. Oh.

family-feud.jpgYesterday an "idea" was announced. Promoted today as intrepid was a plan for what school systems and social service agencies call "at risk" youth. And it made the front page of The New York Times.

It took six months and a team of eight people in a global U.S. city called Chicago to figure out this $60 million seeming innovation. The idea came after sixty-seven kids died violently in 2007-2008, mostly youth of color, and after one death was captured on tape and broadcast to the world via YouTube.

The Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan for youth follows death, murder, and a global financial collapse, just some of the many repercussions of globalization.

What Have We Done to the Children?

I'm embedding this into the Social Etymologies blog because I never want to forget this.

I never want to forget the sound of a child's uncomfortable giggle as two-by-four hits young, black bone. I never want to forget the sound of a child saying "Damn!" over and over or someone saying plainly, in the background, "They beat him to death!" I never want to forget a child say with almost Fox News fascination, "Get closer! Get closer!"

I never want to forget a young voice scream desperately "Come on, Derrion! Derrion get up! Derrion, get up!"

I never want to forget that we produced these children. I never want to forget the process and practice of that production.

I never want to forget what we have done to the kids. I never want to forget what we have not done for the kids.


Beating death Of Derrion Albert, age 16, by his peers (24 September 2009, Chicago, IL)


The Thing-ness of My Child

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Man-Ray-African-Mask-166530.jpgI worry that my daughter's school is too fantastic for its own good. Her teacher is magnetic; she is an elder teacher who has taught Montessori for almost twenty years yet springs with delight at the thought of each new day and each year's introduction to the Great Lessons.

The head of school is dynamic, a woman who loves words and the ways in which they can inspire innovative and compassionate learning. The head of school reads. She shares her reading with her faculty. She reads historical and informational books, about quilting, for example, and she turns the idea and execution of a quilt into a metaphor for working with kids as a community without judgment and with great gratitude for the fortune of the profession.

Each teacher in the school is "friendly" to a degree that makes any normal human feel that they've given their smile muscles away at the toll booth on the bridge. Each teacher is always happy and their fingers never wag with contempt in the face of any child.

But.

Three times in one week a different child announced my daughter's country of birth: to the PE teacher, to other children, to my daughter herself. And each time, other little ones around her put their lips into a perfect circle and emitted loud OOOHs and then they widened their mouths to let out booming WOWs.

And when I asked someone, not yet (and maybe never to be) a friend, Am I wrong to be concerned that the children are so in awe of my African daughter? She said, Yes. Oh, children like new things; they like new and different and interesting things.

And that's just it. And you know what I am about to say. It is this that bothers me: the thing-ness of my child within the walls of what is supposed to be (or become) her (our) school "community." It bothers me that no other child (to my knowledge) is a thing in the same way that our daughter is. That no other human is new and different and interesting in just the same way. And I don't want any child to be 'discovered' in such a way - discovered to be a new and different and interesting thing. Our daughter is these things to these children because their world has been distorted, shrunken to the size of a lentil.

My daughter has entered into the world of these children, which they believe to be real. And it is highly likely that the other world in which my daughter, our family, and 75% of the world's people live will only be entered by them through food, feathers, and dancing - through, in essence, the novelties of 'Others.' And she, our daughter, will learn (is learning) to be in their world. Our task as parents, Mark and I, is to help our daughter see that adults who love their kids as much as we love her created this small place where white children could always feel that their place and position and existence was - problematically - "natural" and "right."

Daily, we help our daughter understand in her words, through her level of conception that the world of white children is just one 'reality'; it is false and disturbed, yet it is a place that is porous allowing for moments of clarity. Inside the world of white children our daughter needs to know that forgiveness is still possible - of each other - but this will truly only be so if these children learn to see themselves as not so alone in a world but instead of a much larger one. And it is this work that belongs to adults.


Photo credit: "Black & White" by Man Ray, 1936

Living with the Undergrads

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We live among four undergrad houses on a dead end block in this small, southern town. The kids had parties four nights in a row. frat+party.jpg

Three hundred people at just one of the parties. One girl tells a Ghanaian basketball player: "Go back to Africa!" Girl is grabbed, boys jump in. Fight Muay Thai. (Bodies probably flew.) Cops called. Citations written - $500 for breaking the noise ordinance. Us in the streets, middle of the night, begging for some sleep. No sleep, groggy days, terrible weekends.

This weekend we hope for better as we had the undergrads over for cardamom immersed brownies and discussed how we might all live in community. As always, as kids always are, they were full of heart, ready to do things differently, and never wanted to leave and return to their own houses down the block. Kids . . . We didn't want them to leave either.

"The Near-Death Experience of Antioch College: A Cautionary Tale"

50.jpgFrom American Association of University Professors' newsletter:

What happens when a university's corporate management betrays the institution's core educational mission; when it abandons its key constituencies; when it hides its intentions and plans; and when it manipulates or withholds essential financial information? The AAUP's investigative report on Antioch University provides disturbing and disheartening answers to these questions.

Antioch College, founded in 1852 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has had a long history as a pioneer in liberal arts education. Significant innovations, subsequently adopted by many other institutions, have included cooperative education, experiential learning, community governance, recruitment of African American students before and after Brown vs. Board of Education, and the country's first study abroad program. Through good times and bad, Antioch has produced distinguished graduates such as Coretta Scott King, Stephen Jay Gould, and Eleanor Holmes Norton. It has received top rankings among colleges whose graduates go on to complete the PhD as well as continuing recognition in the areas of academic challenge, enriching educational experience, active and collaborative learning, and student-faculty interaction.

The Antioch University administration and board of trustees, in suspending the operations of Antioch College and then closing the institution on June 30, 2008, appears to have decided that the college's rich history of progressive education and its residential liberal arts setting were luxuries that its 21st-century management philosophy could not afford and did not need. Antioch's closure is thus of concern to everyone interested in high quality liberal arts higher education.

The report of the AAUP's investigative committee analyzes the protracted dissolution of Antioch College in the light of the Association's recommended standards for faculty participation in program development, curricular control, budgetary allocation, declaration of financial exigency, and treatment of faculty under such exigency. The report details the gradual deterioration of faculty governance at Antioch through a series of administrative actions over several decades that led ultimately to the closure of the college. Key managerial decisions made by the administration repeatedly disregarded longstanding principles of faculty consultation and shared governance.

Specifically the report reveals that the Antioch University administration:

  • usurped the faculty's responsibilities by mandating a new curriculum that the faculty neither initiated nor approved;
  • failed to consult with the faculty regarding the college's financial condition prior to the declaration of financial exigency and the process by which university administrators and board members had reached that decision;
  • failed to provide faculty members the right to examine or challenge the decisions both to declare financial exigency and to close the college;
  • systematically reduced the flow of budgetary information to the Antioch College faculty and its governance bodies;
  • failed to protect the autonomy of Antioch College and, in fact, significantly undermined it by approving a shift of administrative functions from Antioch College to the university administration without ensuring means for communication or sharing of governance.

During its 156-year history, the college had struggled through many hard times but had been sustained by the strong tradition of its faculty's engagement with enlightened boards, distinguished administrators, eminent alumni, and talented students working together to serve the common good. Fortunately, those devoted to the Antioch tradition have once again taken critical steps toward reopening Antioch College. As announced on June 30, 2009, the governing boards of Antioch University and the college's alumni have reached agreement on opening a new Antioch College, independent of the university. Reopening is anticipated for fall 2011. Antioch College, it seems, will rise again phoenix-like and survive to continue its tradition of progressive education. But its near demise provides clear and eloquent testimony to the havoc wrought by a board and administration that abandoned their commitment to liberal arts education and to the fundamental principles of shared governance.

Gary Rhoades, General Secretary

SeekingBlackCurricular&ExtracurricularLife

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Little Pinks small.jpg

Dear USA:

Help.

For a moment, let me be completely blunt about what the assistance you might provide is regarding?

WE ARE IN SEARCH OF BLACK CURRICULAR AND EXTRACURRICULAR LIFE!

Okay, my husband and I are desperate out here in a rural area of Maryland--and yes, this is the south no matter how you slice the state. I know, I know, we moved ourselves out here so why cry out for some social/cultural assistance when we made our own bed to begin with? Well, we're academics, teachers, so there was a job for Mark here, a good one, and the town is only 3.5 hours drive from our family in NY as opposed to hours by plane, and let's face it, Minnesota was like hyperborean cold--so forgive us, we felt compelled.

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Maya Angelou Public Charter School • See Forever Foundation


There is a very good article by James Forman, Jr. in Boston Review, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/opinion/08brooks.htmlBR34.3/forman.php">"No Ordinary Success: The Boundaries of School Reform" (May/June 2009). Forman is the founder of Maya Angelou Public Charter School, a school for those kids that schools usually don't want as students, often the ones that, unfortuantely, the criminal justice system in the U.S. collects as symbols of "fighting crime." Forman is a product of SNCC parents of the '60s. His father, James Sr., died in 2005 was SNCC's executive secretary and his mother was an activist and nurse.

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