Am I an activist? People keep asking me this question. And so I ask, what is an activist?
So, am I can activist? Yes. Hell yes! And do you know what? So are you. For you would not be reading this if you did not think change was possible, likely, even necessary, and if you didn’t care deeply about your fellow beings. So what are you waiting for? Permission? Give it to yourself. Go do something, make something happen. How? What? When? Those are really6 great questions and a great place to start your self-inquiry.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you my list that I wrote down in five minutes:
Listen to students, parents and teachers and allow them to be an integral part of the decision-making process.Foster creativity. Bring back theater, music and art. Let kids do plays and paint murals.Abolish grades, standardized tests and homeworkGet rid of coercive, behaviorist methods of disciplineLet kids move. Bring back recess and PEProvide healthy meals. Let kids plant gardens and pay attention to where their food comes from.Encourage critical thinking and questions that can’t be answered in a worksheet.Support the caregiver’s right to choose a model that fits his or her own childAdequately fund education so that teachers are paid a living wage
This is by no means comprehensive, but I think it’s a do-able start.
If you would occupy your statehouse to keep your job, pay, and benefits, please also consider occupying your classroom.
Give your students at least a day a week to follow their passions.Get rid of your furniture. Help kids borrow, bring, or build their own.Get rid of your textbooks. Or redact them.Ask kids to make sense of the world as it happens across media and technologies.Build communities instead of reinforcing expectations.
This past back-to-school season, a learning styles study from 2009 got recycled by NPR and resulted in one of the most heated comment debates I’ve seen online. The study proclaimed that learning styles do not, in fact, exist and “widespread use of learning-style tests and teaching tools is a wasteful use of limited educational resources.”
I want to remind our readers and members that all posts and conversations are open and still active, so comment away! This includes archive posts!I have included 5 archive post below, I chose them to introduce you to some of the early conversations. Enjoy and feel free to share older posts on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Please comment!Have a great week and please take a moment to review all the posts from the last week!
I would argue, though, that social justice by its very nature is informed by the social and cultural context within which it’s being viewed. Social justice today means something both similar and different than what it meant in the previous century. Different in the sense that it signifies today equal access to and understanding of the tools of digital creation and communication, and therefore power. And when I say “understanding,” I don’t mean simply the knowledge to make and communicate using these tools. But also the critical understanding of how these tools are used to disenfranchise the very youth who employ them just as easily as they are used to promote and amplify their own participatory voice. That every digital act represents a value system.
The population that makes up the structure we call “school” can be placed on a continuum to show the way in which each individual is contributing to the development (or hindrance) of democracy. Point blank: each individual needs to be knowledgeable of the fact that he or she can push schools further towards a democratic entity, but they must be cognizant of the fact that schools were originally constructed as opponents to democracy. Of course, educational historians would love to have you believe that one of the original purposes of schooling was to teach people how to behave in a democracy, but that opinion seems to work in stark contrast to rows, grades, standards, and an emphasis on conformity rather than original thought and cognitive development.
I believe it is ideal to invite the student to participate in understanding and creating the goals of their learning. Often in my reading and observation of classrooms, the students are just informed of their learning goals. They are put up on a poster or given as a rubric to the students. Are we not just repeating traditional assessment then under a new name and format? This process paints a picture of student involvement or student centered assessment, but still see the teacher or the other as the true source of assessment. Just informing the students of the “standards” to be reached or outcomes of their study is not enough. We should allow them to be an active part of the conversation and thinking around the what, how and why of their learning.
Meaningful education has its basis in psychology. What children learn has little meaning without connection to how they learn. We begin with a brief comment on how education has used and misused psychology.
On Greg Mortenson, and how our collective fantasy about saving the world with schools goes from romance to comedy to tragedy.
The recent revelation that Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea is based on fictionalized accounts of his experiences in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that his charity’s funds were misspent and its books were cooked, and that there was little or no followup or support for many of his schools once they were built – if they were built at all – has drawn a lot of media attention. But the larger fiction which goes unquestioned is Mortenson’s romanticized portrayal of education as a panacea for all the world’s ills, a silver bullet that in one clean shot can end poverty, terrorism, and the oppression of girls and women around the world.
Everyone sat at the dining room table, disgorging the contents of their backpacks. Out came clump after clump, near forests, of worksheets. Sheets of practice multiplication facts, line graphs, adding decimals, calculating percentages. Leaf upon leaf of making contractions, adding fractions, fact and opinion worksheets, creating compound words. Books-that-are-not-really-books, but combinations of “readings” and tales with trenchant moral messages, chosen by textbook editors and reading specialists, fell onto the table awaiting uneager perusal. Directions for multi-stage projects, requiring many notebooks, binders, dividers, and three-hole-punch reinforcement rings, demanded attention, effort, and a show of understanding of the stage-wise nature of completing lengthy “research” in elementary school.
You would have been brave if you had smashed that kids face into the ground. You could have done it, too. And you would have been absolutely justified. Bullying is never okay and the victim is never at fault. But you didn’t choose bravery. You chose courage instead. You boldly dealt with it by speaking out in humility and grace. You talked to me about how it felt. You invited me in to listen. You talked to your teacher about what happened and why it was wrong. Then you moved a step further and chose forgiveness and you proved, at a young age, that love is the most courageous route possible. Thank you for the reminder about what matters.
Why wasn’t I allowed to make more decisions about the courses I wanted to take? Why was I forced to feel trapped in subjects I had little interest in (and, as a result, put little effort into) when I could have been doing something I felt passionate about? Is there truth in the idea that a well-rounded, educated person is the best person?
( in Spanish and English) Education is the foremost viable mean to solve many of society’s present day problems. It can solve poverty, hunger, criminality, and can create a sense of companionship within all of us. My main goal is to send the message to everyone around the world that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, where you come from, or what you look like, because in the End, we are all measured by our actions
We are right to make demands, to craft policy proposals, and to seek media attention. We need coherent narratives about the school to prison pipeline, the learning and teaching environments that grow curiosity, a connection to place, and meaningfully engage students in learning that matters.
Leading and learning with the adults that surround your kids is just as important as leading and learning daily with your students. Teaching in a silo-especially when you are good at it–is like living in a well, deep and cold.
Archive Post from Paula White. Worth reopening the conversation!
"I see this as an opportunity for us to begin the task of re-envisioning what the rest of the day could look like as well and I think we’ll discover all KINDS of student expertise we never knew existed."
But mostly, my heart hurts, not because of the difficulty of the job we do as educators, but because of the crap put in our way. There’s little room for exploration, for trying new things, for really teaching conceptually in meaningful ways, or for meeting the needs of individual teachers or kids in ways that matter. I sat in the kitchen one day and listened to my grandson and niece talk about the work they had to do in 6th and 11th grades, respectfully. They decided the ONLY difference was in the size of the worksheet packets they get! Neither had regular access to technology, nor were they allowed to use it in writing tasks in their classwork.
The Detroit Minds and Hearts fellowship is a youth-empowerment program delivered by MAS (Muslim American Society) Youth Detroit. We aim to Recognize the potential of our youth, Refine their skills and Retain their drive toward social justice