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: Poor representation (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.
Happy New Year!