I am happy that after all of these years of teaching, my craft has improved while my basic philosophy has not, as noted on my webpage and on this post.
It was my reading of Cornel West’s and W.E.B. Du Bois’s works as a high school, undergraduate, and graduate student that shaped my sense of intellectual and practical purpose. West’s synthesis of Christianity and pragmatism promulgated my construction of theodicy that finds its premise in the writings and thought processes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Dewey. My courses look to inculcate the point of view of the oppressed and alienated class, as it is this class that has traditionally been neglected among the privileged and in the literature of study. I find the teachings of Christ and Karl Marx to be synonymous in that both look to eradicate social vice and poverty, racism and hate, as well as greed and materialism.
Through the teaching of history, it is my objective to first deconstruct a false knowledge of history by teaching students to build a new synthesis that challenges their prior knowledge. It is at this point in which a teacher and a student work collectively to reconstruct a new historical synthesis. Reconstructionism contends that society is in need of constant reconstruction and change, and such social change involves both a rebuilding of knowledge and how society uses that knowledge to transform the teaching and learning of materialism. Mortimer Adler, who reflects some of the qualities of the realist school of thought, proposed a Paideia method of instruction, which emphasizes a discussion/seminar style of teaching and learning. As opposed to lecture, I find the discussion/seminar method of instruction to be more liberal, hence invoking greater academic freedom of thought. Furthermore, it is here that students focus more on logic, process, synthesis, and analysis over rote memory and conclusion.
The past two weeks have been BUSY. I recently returned from Champaign, Illinois where I conducted a seminar with a history department there. We spent a great deal of time evaluating what they are currently doing and what changes needed to transpire. Much of our work dealt with vertical teams, historical thinking skills, and organization. I must say those folks were impressive. They were motivated and ready to work with me.
The biggest challenge faced was getting to Champaign. Due to a number of storms, my flight out of Boston was delayed almost two hours. When I finally arrived in Chicago, I missed my connecting flight. According to the airline, the next flight to Champaign was at 11 AM. I would miss an entire days worth of work. I ended up renting a car and making the 2 1/2 hour drive, which placed me at my hotel at 3:30 AM. I was set to be on campus by 8.
Later that night, I met Kyle Thomas for drinks at a downtown Champaign bar. Kyle is working on his Ph.D in the theater program; his reserach focuses on the role of theater in Europe between 800 AD and 1200 AD. His approach to looking at theater history is unique in that much of it did not transpire in a theater, but in places like a court house. What a great night we had. He was a student in the very first class I taught after graduate school back in 2000. You can read more on Kyle here.
This week is going to be a productive one here at St. Johnsbury Academy, a New England boarding school in Vermont. I am here for an AP US History conference. I pride myself on ALWAYS having a highly organized course. Thus, I am going to pass on the afternoon social gatherings and drinking with colleagues while here, and focus my attention on writing a NEW AP US History syllabus and reading outline. With the exception of my first year, I have always completed my courses. I managed to do so even at Brooks this year with 10 weeks less of instructional time than I am used too. I will also devote one hour of each night to research and writing. I am ready for an ELITE teaching year. Oh, I am going to enter a 5k too. I am not in 5:45 pace shape, but it is a start.
Brooks has a great library, I must say. Janette went with me to play in the Luce Library stacks for a conference presentation proposal that will consist of faculty members from some of the most elite boarding schools in the nation. Session Title: Race and Privilege at America’s Most Elite Boarding Schools. I have already read four of the works here, as well as accumulated a massive data base of scholarly articles on the topic.
I am trying to keep my thoughts clear, my notes in order, and my goal untouched. I do seem to get distracted just a bit when I come across something I had not considered. Thus, in the process of getting side track with my research and writing, I aim to explore that avenue rather than stress over it. At times I feel like the image above. Regardless, I learn something new every time I read a scholarly article or a primary document that aids my work.
I am going to vanish for a bit with Janette and 4LC (Abbey). We are headed North for a 40 mile backpacking trip. I hope to get more writing done when I return. There is nothing like reading, hiking, and not bathing for a week. We are going to traverse through parts of New Hampshire and Maine.
I will write more extensively about our trip upon my return.
I found this article to be of interest. It garners a great deal of truth regarding race and society. Here are some noted responses towards people of color for presenting matters of race.
1) “You’re racist for making this an issue of race.”
2) “I don’t see race. I only see the human race.”
3) “Talking about issues in terms of ‘white people’ and ‘white privilege’ is reverse racism.”
4) “You [person of color] clearly don’t know what racism is. According to Webster’s Dictionary…”
5) “You [person of color] said something about white people doing racist things, so I demand you explain this to me right now.”
6) “But my [person of color] friend said it was OK if I did it [racially problematic thing].”
7) “Stop attacking me for having privileges just because I’m white. It’s racist and hurtful.”
8) “I’m sick of pretending that [people of color] need special rights and programs just because they aren’t white. We have problems too, you know.”
9) [Insert tear-filled expression of white privilege guilt or denial here.]
The list below is one I received and discussed at a recent diversity seminar for independent schools. If you are a person of color, an ally, or one who contributes to the egregious errors listed here, I would love to further this conversation more.I also think something must be noted by the exclusion of people of color to the macro mission of the school. Further, a discussion on campuses should take into consideration the lack of intentional diversity goals. There are a number of schools that lack a diversity director. I have discussed a few of these matters on a previous post found here.
1. Exclude people of color from leadership positions.
2. Brag about how “color-blind” your schools is.
3. Never have more than one person of color on faculty and/or staff.
4. Allow only teachers of color to only mentor and discipline students of color.
5. Don’t allow people tell “their” stories.
6. Don’t develop a long-range plan to increase the diversity of your student body and faculty.
7. Don’t socialize with teachers of color.
8. When faculty and students of color gather together, stare at them and wonder aloud about what they’re up to.
9. Hire a person of color as diversity director and let him or her worry about changing the school culture. Offer him or her a little financial or staff support.
10. Hire a person of color as diversity director and let him or her focus on diversity events and nothing else.
11. Assume that the people of color on your campus are only interested in professional that focuses on diversity.
12. Appoint a person of color, who already has a full teaching and coaching load, to be the diversity director on the side. The younger the better.
13. Expect teachers of color to “fit in” to your community without considering their interests or needs.
14. Don’t examine your curriculum to consider the degree to which it includes and excludes the contributions of people of color to to history, literature, art, science, etc