Monthly Archives: January 2013

Learning in Resistance.

Last weekend, I was in Omaha, Nebraska for a friend’s wedding. I met many new people, exchanged the normal “get to know you” small talk I have been socialized to engage in. Usually these conversations tend to follow a similar format—this is my job, this where I’m from, nice to meet you. Yet I was surprised to see a new pattern emerge this time around. Upon discovering that I am from the Seattle region and am currently training to become a public school teacher, I was asked many times about my thoughts regarding Garfield High School.

Garfield High School in Seattle has become the subject of both local and national headlines, in response to the staff’s recent boycott against the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test for students. While many opinions are floating around regarding the ethics and rationality of this decision by the staff at this inner-city public school, I believe the most interesting implication of this phenomenon is the fact that teachers at one school—only ONE school—sparked a national critical conversation about a topic related to our education system and how we should be accountable to our students’ learning.

More schools in Seattle are joining the boycott. There are people organizing on facebook in support of Garfield High School’s staff. Digital Technologies and Social Medias have afforded an incredible opportunity for educators to initiate collective conversations and (potentially) spark mass movements, from within their own schools and classrooms. These viral messages/movements can spread (inter)nationally in a matter of days and weeks (and potentially hours, minutes, seconds). If teachers at one school in Seattle can get people across our entire country talking critically about standardized testing, what else can we push/pull the Public to consider with a critical and creative consciousness?

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Learning in dreams.

El sueño en mi pared
por Jane Medina

Tengo un sueño en mi pared.
Lo dibujé durante el segundo grado.
La maestra nos dijo:
_____—Niñas y niños, dibujen sus sueños,
_____dibujen los sueños que sólo ustedes pueden ver.
Casi todos los niños dibujaron
_____salones llenos de billetes,
_____o casas bonitas con flores y chimeneas,
_____o juguetes o dulces o Disneylandia.
Pero yo dibujé un sueño
_____de un salón de clase lleno de niños
_____y una maestra morena bonita
_____muy parecida a mí.

Tengo un sueño en mi pared.
Lo pegué con cinta adhesiva.
Las puntas de la cinta están despegándose ahora.

The Dream on My Wall
by Jane Medina

I have a dream on my wall.
I drew it in the second grade.
The teacher said,
_____“Draw your dreams, boys and girls.
_____Draw the dreams that only you can see.”
Most kids drew
_____rooms full of dollar bills,
_____or pretty houses with flowers and chimneys,
_____or toys or candy or Disneyland.
But I drew a dream
_____of a class full of kids
_____and a pretty brown teacher
_____who looked just like me.

I have a dream on my wall.
I stuck it there with yellow tape.
Now the tape is curling at the ends.

_

https://i2.wp.com/clutchmag.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/ruby-bridges-640x4061111.jpg
The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell


What are the implications of an education system where the majority of educators and administrators—those who (theoretically) hold positions of authority and power over students—are White? As a child, I had very few teachers of color. How did this subconsciously impact my own perspectives and prejudices? What possibilities and potentials can arise when children experience and become accustomed to a diverse spectrum of individuals holding positions of power and authority?

What does it mean for me to be another White Man in a position of authority? How can I use this power to play with the power dynamics that have allowed me my own power and privilege in this country, community, classroom? How do I use this power responsibly, and what am I accountable to do with it?

Learning in play.

Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.
—O. Fred Donaldson
Contemporary American martial arts master

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
—Diane Ackerman
Contemporary American author

Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.
—Abraham Maslow
American psychologist, 1908–1970

As a young learner, I loved being in the Classroom. I found so much joy in learning, and knew that this was the site of exploration and discovery (or perhaps more importantly a place/space of validation and encouragement from my educators). Now that I am a teacher-in-training, my love for classroom spaces persists. Yet my favorite time of the school day has become Recess.

Every morning, I go out to Recess with the primary classes in my student teaching placement. There are so many benefits of this daily practice. The opportunity to go outside, run around, get some exercise; the ability to observe my students in  more unstructured social situations/settings; the act of directly modeling for my students a transition from “class time” to “play time” and back again; the critical moments of intervening in conflict, facilitating conversation/reconciliation, inviting a lonely child to play too. I am still processing and exploring what advantages and opportunities can come from participating in Recess. At this point, I believe the most valuable product of this practice has been the effect that play has had on my relationships with my students. Spending even just fifteen minutes a day playing with the kids—smiling and laughing, creating new games together, simply being goofy—has opened up and (radically) transformed many of our student-teacher dialogues and dynamics, both in the classroom and without. Our play seems to have cultivated a sense of mutual respect, confidence, comfort/safety, and (most importantly) trust.

Play is the heart of a (or at least my) Pedagogy of Belonging. I strongly believe that all teachers can benefit from going/coming out to Recess. Not as a monitor on “Recess Duty,” but as a co-participant in the creative and collective play that goes on. I am eager to experience the continuing transformation and transgression this practice permits/provides.

Learning in Multiple Perspectives.

How people are represented is how they are treated.

—Stuart Hall

How do we represent Others and their world[s] for just purposes?

—Soyini Madison