Then and Now Photos of Abandoned Detroit School
This hits hard. I wonder: why is this valuable shelter not being used by community organizations?
Then and Now Photos of Abandoned Detroit School
This hits hard. I wonder: why is this valuable shelter not being used by community organizations?
“American’s greatest mass hanging — the execution of 38 Sioux Indians — was personally ordered by the ‘Great Emancipator,’ President Abraham Lincoln.”
Largest mass hanging in United States history
38 Santee “Sioux” Indian men
Mankato, Minnesota, Dec. 16, 1862
What brought about the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians in Minnesota December 1862 was the failure “again” of the U.S. Government to honor it’s treaties with Indian Nations. Indians were not given the money or food set forth to them for signing a treaty to turn over more than a million acres of their land and be forced to live on a reservation.
Indian agents keep the treaty money and food that was to go to the Indians, the food was sold to White settlers, food that was given to the Indians was spoiled and not fit for a dog to eat. Indian hunting parties went off the reservation land looking for food to feed their families, one hunting group took eggs from a White settlers land and the rest is history.
Why I want to be a social studies teacher, too.
— Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (via daughtersofdilla)
I love imagining how I’d love to teach. This is a snippet of that:
I was introduced to Annie Dillard during my senior year of high school, in AP Literature. Annie brought me to science. This was the same time I was learning to hate science in AP Biology after having failed chemistry. She taught me wonder and exploration of the natural world, both of which I had lost motivation for throughout my schooling. I dream of teaching her work in the context of a science class.
We would read essays from Teaching A Stone To Talk. Like “Living Like Weasels”, which I read in Introduction To Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College. I was charmed Dillard’s claim that she could “very calmly go wild” and her description of how she would do so. In this piece, she asks what it means to have an instinct. That question, that act of questioning is one reason her writing is so valuable - she provokes readers to imagine. As a class, we could move from reading the piece to investigating instincts, what their purposes are, why they are selected for. Throughout the essay she references what she’s read and what it led her to think about and do very explicitly - this is another example of the value of her work as a teaching tool. She’s doesn’t present herself as a magical scientist with inexplicable knowledge of details of life histories of forest animals, but an investigator, a constant investigator, reading for the sake of reading and then seeking out the connections and then reading again to understand what she’s discovered.
Also in Teaching A Stone To Talk is “Sojourner,” an essay that uses the mangrove as the center of an epic metaphor about earth. And “Life On The Rocks: The Galapagos,” a perfect introduction to evolution, having many of the basic details a textbook might have, explaining the concepts in a way that is evocative and poetic. This essay could give students a framework in which to place the facts that they will learn about evolution. Again, it also models how to use the facts of a concept and ﬂesh them out. It prompts students to ask: what did that major ﬁgure of science see, touch, sense and how did that lead them to make their discovery. This serves to make science so much more accessible. It reveals science is about observation and making connections.
If the class were dealing with ethics, an excellent essay would be “The Deer at Providencia,” a compelling exploration of suffering that might be appropriate for a class that explored the ethics of research, the ethics of altering ecosystems and the ethics of eating animals. Rather than an academic essay on the ethics, this essay would press on other places in students’ consciousness.
And there is still Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, a book, rather than an essay, a deep investigation of one place. One place in the world that is connected, by Dillard’s intellect to every other place in the world. This it the book that entangled me in high school. Dillard’s work can make scientists out of students who have lost patience, faith or interest in science.
Hi! I started a new blog called The Progressive Future Teachers Collective in the hope that it will be a first step in building an actual collective. I posted here already about wanting to get together with radical and progressive educators as I saw in NYCORE - the New York Collective of Radical Educators.
I started this blog because I was inspired by working teachers who were writing about the work they did everyday. It completely illuminated the world of schools to me. My head was in theory and policy, while theirs were in the nitty gritty. I am glad that I have written the few posts that I have, but I started to feel that I didn’t need to be trying to join the conversation between working teachers as much as future teachers who, like me, are getting a million different messages about the work they are planning to do and usually very little experience.
I think there is immense potential for growth through working with each other, potential that doesn’t exist in our education classes and brief classroom observations. Visit me there, drop me a comment! Please refer future teachers who you know to be progressive or radical or questioning!
Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing here about my personal adventures (they’re mostly in my head) as a radical pre-service teacher!
My dream is interdisciplinarity. As a radical critical pedagogy lover, I am in love with the social sciences and as a person whose first talent was writing and whose first hobby was reading, I can imagine myself writing feedback on teenagers’ literary criticism essays (I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy and the whole time was itching to hear what a room full of teenagers would have to say about it, especially when equipped with the knowledge of parallels in history and current events), but I am (happily) studying to become a science educator. I observed in a classroom of a teacher who was a social studies and science teacher and I was amazed that that was a possibility. But that doesn’t mean she’s able to blend the two into an almost seamless exploration of the world through the lenses of the natural and social sciences as I would love to. Still here’s a sketch of that dream: a study of oil.
Oil! is the title of the Upton Sinclair book that was adapted into the movie There Will Be Blood. That movie begins by showing how one man finds oil before he becomes a tycoon. I know that seeing the process was a revelation for me. I would love to share it with students. I also saw an xkcd strip that showed how deep the well that was the source of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is - deeper than the deepest trench! Another revelation. Speaking of oil spills, let’s explore through science and mainstream news what oil spills do to the environment - in the Niger Delta, in the Gulf of Mexico - all over the world. Where does oil come from? How does oil factor into our economy? What kind of scientists work with oil? How do we remediate ecosystems after an oil spill? I mean, this is a whole class. And I don’t even need to supply the questions - there’s something for anyone to get interested in.
I found Rethinking Intelligence: Confronting Psychological Assumptions About Teaching And Learning, edited by Joe L. Kincheloe Shirley Steinberg and Leila E. Villaverde when I typed “intelligence” to search the catalog of the library of my then-new school University of North Carolina at Asheville. This is my favorite search term. Rethinking Intelligence is what I want to do everyday. I have yearned for a new way to think about intelligence since I read Pedagogy of the Oppressed (well, the first few chapters of it) during the summer before my junior year of high school. That book quickly and profoundly changed my life. The way intelligence is used in schools is deeply oppressive, even when handled by the most loving and compassionate educator, assigning value to some students and stripping it from others. And as the book The Mismeasure Of Man confirmed for me, our current concept of intelligence has its origins in white male supremacy.
This book is rooted in Postformalism, the roots of which Joe Kincheloe lays out in the first chapter, “The Foundations of Democratic Educational Psychology” He cites Vygotsky, Neo-Vygotskian Situated Cognition, Dewey Progressivism, Critical Pedagogy, the Postmodern paradigm shift, cultural studies, depth psychology and post-structuralist psychoanalysis, and finally Gardner’s multiple intelligences. I am not familiar with all of those foundational influences and will definitely be investigating.
The ideas of the third chapter, “The Personality Vacuum: Abstracting The Social from The Psychological,” written by Pepi Leistyna, have been resounding in my mind since I read it months ago. The epigraph is from Edmund Sullivan’s out-of-print 1990 book Critical Psychology and Pedagogy.
Psychology with its notion of the isolated, developing individual allows for the interpretation that all societal problems can be ultimately located at the door of the individual actor. This allows for an interpretation of society as an aggregate of individuals rather than a totality that is much greater than its individual parts.
This is what led Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to say “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating based on race.” and what leads a reported 48% of millennials to believe that there is a such thing as reverse racism. (http://cl.ly/G8Zo)The idea that there are systems of oppression created and maintained by everyone, not some greedy capitalists or evil warlords far away is not a consideration. It may be because I have an education lens, but it seems to me that schools, especially public schools are ground zero for this problematic thinking. It is not true that we can take a person’s personality and attribute all of it to something inherently good or bad within them, just as we cannot sleuth out a social problem by figuring out what is wrong with individuals. Our society, like an ecosystem is greater than the sum of its parts. Even the teaching of subjects as discrete fields perpetuates this misunderstanding - social studies is inextricably tied to physical science, though schools have worked hard to keep them as separate as possible. This also leads to people seeing the achievement gap, which I prefer to think of, as Gloria Ladson Billings does, as an educational debt to marginalized students as a problem with those students! When that is exactly the opposite of what the problem is.
When I was in Americorps my service was to be literacy tutoring for students at a psychiatric facility. We received one training about making literacy fun. While I’m grateful that I was able to be a part of the lives of the students I worked with, I am regretful about the way our literacy tutoring went. I learned to read in pre-school, I was taught my my mother. I came to my Americorps program with absolutely no understanding of how people learn to read. I carried with me the assumptions Lesityna highlights,a s delineated in Jim Gee’s 1990 paper, :Discourses, socio-culturally situated educational theory, and the failure problem.”
1.Thinking and speaking are functions of individual minds.
2. Literacy is an individual mental skill involving the ability to read and write.
3. Intelligence, knowledge, and aptitude are states of individual minds.
With these assumptions, the obvious conclusion is that if one doesn’t know how to read i t is their own failure, so to some deficiency within them.
Leistyna repeats that “thinking, speaking, knowing, and literacy are functions of social groups.” and quotes Gee as saying “intelligence and aptitude, as measured by tests, are artificially constructed measures of aspects of social practices taken out of context and attributed to individuals.”
The notion that mind is social and shaped by the groups to which we belong is one I will certainly be exploring more.
I started this blog so that I could learn from other educators with the same goals and challenges as I am trying to understand as a radical pre-service educator. My godmother heard through her network about the New York Collective of Radical Educators and shared with me that they were having a retreat for educators of color. What I found on their website blew me away. A statement of values that I would sign on to, years of inquiry to action groups, some of the actions of which are still taking place, conferences and retreats like the one my Godmother heard about. It seems like a manifestation of the dreams I have for educators in North Carolina. And since I don’t know of anything like that already in existence, I want to start one.
Who’s with me?
My friend brought up the idea of success today. What is my personal definition of success? Well, I’ve been thinking about this pretty intensely lately. I’m a twenty-six year old undergrad with three years to go and four years already behind me; I’ve not yet reached a goal that I was expected to reach by twenty-two. But then I have my reasons and regret not one of the decisions that got me here. He talked about how his family engages in the “comparison game” - comparing his success to their own and placing theirs below his. I link that to my concern with “building hierarchies” - the dominant theme of my thoughts lately. I think I will feel successful when I am a teacher and I can teach all kinds of students so that they leave me more capable and full of questions than when we started, when I have a home that’s peaceful, beautiful, welcoming and full of people and when I have a role in my community that makes it better. And at the same time I want to be happy with myself now and I’ll consider myself successful if I’m living in accordance with my values - of unconditional love for other human beings and life in general and respect for what I don’t know. In that sense I feel successful right now.
But about building hierarchies - I still have the idea of success that I learned from my family and in school and on TV and who knows where else in the back of my mind. That is the idea that success can be measured in money and even more importantly in the messages I received, in prestige.
I was observing a teacher yesterday and really enjoying his teaching philosophy - inquiry based teaching with lots of support and feedback - and then he told me that he felt lucky that he was teaching the brightest students in the school. I felt like he carefully took my heart and happily boxed it up in tight package. Behind that term is the justification for inequality - the constant comparison and hierarchy building that doesn’t only take place in schools, but I see so much of the world through the lens of education so schools are where I see it most clearly. The clear implication is that the rest of the kids in the school aren’t as bright as measured by their ability to earn entrance to his AP and honors chemistry and physics classes. I just can’t believe that about students. What I believe is that every child in that school is different and has their own complex web of ability ( which can be affected by inequality) and interest and opportunity that they have to climb through to be recognized as valuable when in fact they are all equally valuable. That is what I have faith in - that all human beings are equally valuable. But value judgements are placed on every thread of the fabric of our being. And the direct manifestation of this is racism, classism…what I recently learned Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza has termed kyriarchy. Every act of subjugation and exploitation is intrinsically linked to these simple phrases that pervade every inch of schools. It’s horrifying to me and I feel paralyzed because I don’t know what to do with this idea, but I will call myself successful for trying.
— John Henrik Clarke (via aphoticoccurrences)
I started feeling sick yesterday but went into work anyway this morning because I felt decent when I woke up. By half way through first...
- Having sex every day.
- Saving sex for your wedding night.