Hello, my name is Justin Schleider. I am a white male. I am writing this specifically for the white people who are participating in the #ClearTheAir book chat for White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. We are entering a journey together that will change us. I have read the book, and was ready for the book. Some of us may be ready, while others may not be ready. Regardless, this book will change you.
Our students of color are being harmed by us. This occurs because of our actions as well as our inactions. Please keep this central during our journey. I will operate under the assumption that the rest of you, much like myself, did not get into education to hurt people. That is called intent. Our intentions were good.
However, WE ARE HARMING ALL OF OUR STUDENTS when we do not understand the roles history…
Weeds have complicated systems of intertwined roots that wrap around the hearty and reveal their fruit and seeds in due time but freely
One cluster may be plucked up but there are so many more already seeded fronts lurking to burst from their underground hiding places
To grow in spite of contempt
I really don’t like crabgrass. It steals from its environment so I pick it…everyday…in the morning and after the sun’s heat is more tolerable in the evening. Yes, there are bare patches left in the soil by my efforts. Tomorrow though, there will be more to remove.
To seek water on rainy days because drought conditions are imminent
Somehow, these plants are always supple and healthy looking when left unpoisoned by foreign sprays…
There are a diversity of them and there will usually be more of them in a lawn than the lawn standard beauty
Kinds with flowers, others with hair, some are sticky or have mythological lore attached to their thrice-divided petals, some are red though most are green but all take over
Extending yourself will help you find ways to stick and stay
The things we exude are an [r]evolutionary gift by nature designed to help us survive, even on the tips of our long extended branches we can produce and be productive
BUT, if you over-extend and reach too far from your roots, you are easily plucked up
Be careful though to stay balanced. Extend all the way around and dig deep
Most others have learned to live with weeds in their yard…
I have 300 more days before next summer to just get it over it!
Not every loss is a reason to feel sad but all are opportunities to accept challenge…
Those left when the last buzzer sounds and a game well played results in the L-column check are left needing to huddle in spite of disappointment, not regret, hopeful that this will be the last loss for a while…hopefully.
What is my agenda…my motivation…my inspiration for this year? Why do I do what I do? What do I want to accomplish for myself this year? How do I move the souls on the margin toward the center without decentralizing who they are at their core?
The feeling most of us have between December 25th and January 1st…
Of grateful sadness
And silent regret
That we are out of time but want to take advantage of the clearinghouses and giveaways at stores and in family refrigerators…yeah, that is what I am feeling.
What are my goals for the upcoming year? Not the calendar year but the school year, only days from turning the dog days of summer into my daily grind. Having to hustle and flow instead of gracefully sauntering into my own bump and groove…sigh…I sit reflecting with two more books on my list to read before the clock strikes 5…A.M…the time when I reset the alarm to jump start another day.
This year, I want to have Eq-STrEAM educational responses to the disappointment of failure in schools. So how do I define school failure…and trust, these are the failures of the schools and not its students, even though the record rarely sings that song:
Failure 1: Teacher bullying students that comes from administrative bullying of teachers that usually comes from parents bullying leaders (hurt people, hurt people): unrealistic and unclear expectations create a chattel system of abuse. Remember that.
Failure 2: Poorrepresentation (invisibility, silencing, stage-hogging, fetishizing, gazing, stereotyping): difference is a cause for celebration but boundaries must be in-place as equalizing forces. Establish norms.
Failure 3: Overemphasis on grading (success comes in more than one flavor): differentiating instruction is not only about giving students the option to write a poem to share their thoughts, especially if writing the poem does not qualify for earning the highest grade. Grades are usually subjective, even when using an “objective” rubric. Value what students bring, what students do, who students are. All of it counts.
Failure 4: Ignoring life’s traumas is a microaggressive tool (we don’t all have the same timeline or roadmap): don’t act like life is easy or the same. Sometimes I may need a pencil or a little grace extended (without public broadcast). Facilitate the challenge of navigating the complexities of life by simply realizing that you (or someone you know) have been/will be there at some point, if only for a moment.
So what does it mean to have an Eq-STrEAMer?
Position EQUITY in front of the content. Forget about being “fair”
STEM agency is a moral imperative. Creating producers of knowledge who transcend their consumerist habits is a necessary responsibility of teachers.
The “r” is intentionally small because, well, it is just that big! It is lower case in the traditions of bell hooks…it shares authority and reduces hierarchy.
READ as much as you can in genres of interest to your students. Comics, graphic novels, young adult fiction and nonfiction.
wRITE your thoughts and share them with authentic audiences.
RIGHT wrongs in the canons of information that exist. Give credit to under-valued others that have contributed insights.
RESEARCH the sociology of your field…in my case science education. Sociology is a field of expertise that is interdisciplinary and connects the questions we have about how humans are to how humans be. Learning to confirm, extend and refine others’ work is a skill that should not be treated as a lost art.
RE-PRESENT multiple voices and perspectives in the class. On your syllabus and as decorum in the classroom environment, challenge yourself to include and integrate the issues and biographies of a diversity of actors–people doing stuff. Re-present the classics using paired texts and alternative texts. Represent marginalized students in public fora and private conversations with colleagues. Ask permission to share students’ work when they are hiding their brilliance behind the shade cast by dominating forces in the classroom and school.
ART, like science, is a human enterprise. Creative and artistic designs serve so many cathartic purposes. Embrace it. Art is a pathway into authenticity like nothing else. It liberates captive thoughts and finds order in chaos…even if only for its creator. Art, precisely because it is human, makes more relevant, more meaningful, more important, the natural and synthesized worlds. Art is media and its messaging. Use it skillfully, because you can.
These are the EDUCATIONAL RESPONSES that I think we should all adopt…
As social reproducers…
Wait. What is the difference between having and being? How can we have “whiteness” and not be “white”? Ok…I will save that for another day.
I started thinking ’bout this stuff, YEARS ago. When I was a student, watching from the side of an overly crowded classroom. Insecure not because I didn’t know
or understand the flow
as I saw them
but because I was one
of only a few
who wore wears a mask
that grins and well…you know the rest.
Thank you Mr. Dunbar.
In the sciences I have studied, the students’ work is often commandeered by the advisor. Ok. It did not matter much when all I knew to do was follow a protocol and directions…
When asked by my students “why do we need _______”, I tell them this:
Me: you need middle school to learn how to recognize directions.
Me: you need high school to learn how to follow directions.
Me: You need college to learn to teach others how to follow directions.
Me: You need your master’s to learn how to write directions based on other people’s visions.
Me: You need a Ph.D. to design the protocols that will teach others how to write directions for the clients who will pay you–never what you are really worth–to give directions.
It still remains an important habit and discipline of
knowledge construction, and
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and so I present (for the first time in public)
A golden rule of research:
CEROW or ZERO.
There are two sides to this coin key principle. Be careful to see the markings.
Confirm, Extend, and Refine other’s (lower case O) works or else you have nothing! Know the literature and do quality work. Don’t just cite yourself or the first source in your first search; pay attention to other people on and in the field. Earn respect (and be respectable) by respecting that there really is nothing too new under the sun. Be humble…get down. Thank you Mr. Lamar.
Cite, Evaluate, Represent Others’ (capital O this time) works: be intentional about including a diversity of perspectives in your research and respect the cultural norms of the observed and their overstudied and often invisible communities.
What does it mean on the tail-side of this coin? On the B-side of this record. What are you really trying to say?
To cite is to celebrate. It is like saying “amen” to the preachers in a crowded church; it is an encouragement to them and an affirmation that you are in the write game, on the write field, on the write day.
(Yes…I take a liberty of interchanging write with right which is alright all right by me!)
To evaluate is to be critical without being judgmental; note the difference between this and assess. Don’t use oppression or colonizing, condescending language to read their or speak your truth. If you really disagree, don’t throw shade, check and use another source…for real. The arrogance of critique is not necessary when all this $#@% (shit) is f#&*ery (fuckery) too most.
The privilege of arguing about “scholarly” things, is for sure a first-world problem in the face of hunger, poverty, neglect and abuse…hold your “peers” accountable though…’cause that’s the WRITE (I mean right) thing to do.
To represent is to honestly spend time with the subject. Re- present information so that people who missed “it” as they hurried past its nuanced beauties and coincidental tragedies in the hustle of their own lives can see it anew, for the first time, or simply again.
On this side of the coin principle, the OTHERS’ are the group of very specific others who are usually invisible in the mainstream…
Others from non-dominant cultural groups
Others from lesser-abled cultural enclaves
Others whose power is only discerned in our classrooms, where they shine with us as suns because we center them and listen (or bask in the rays of their light)
I was admonished today to write/right every day…I agree.
To my Black Sun who will be 19 in only a few days…going back to school, now college, is now a joyful experience. I look back on taking you out of that colonizing environment mid year, in 2nd grade, with rejoicing. You are my Black Son and you shine.
Dear Mom, Dad, Auntie, Grandma, family member of a Black sun:
I have to begin with this affirmation: I see you. I believe you.
As we gear up for the start of a new school year, I suspect you might feel the same familiar knots of tension beginning to twist in your stomach that I do, often coming at unexplained moments: while pushing him on the swing, while reading a book together, while chatting about his day over dinner. You’ll wonder if his new teacher will take the time to listen closely to the way he gets excited about superheroes, about building volcanoes with his friends, about waiting for a tomato to ripen before he can pick it.
You’ll wonder if his new teacher will listen to him at all.
You’ll covertly search the internet, chaining together all types of words in the search bar: whatiswrongwithmyblacksun, howtohelpmychildsurvivearacistteacher, whatdoidoknow, howdoihomeschool. You…