So, since HumbleVito made me watch the Vice News episode on the trap in order to prepare for our Pedagogy of Trap workshop earlier this year, I have been addicted to Vice. Like I watch the news show every night and then the station all day and every weekend I binge watch the longer news pieces.
I mean, I already have a heavy addiction to consuming the news so this just adds to that insatiable appetite. However, Vice is different. It’s news from a millennial, global, ‘I think I can heal the world’ kind of perspective. Even though, I wish they had more Black and Latinx on air talent. I friggin love every moment of their I will save the world ideology.
(Peep, how I didn’t say People of Color, I’m getting so damn tired of that phrase. I want to see Black and Latinx people. I’m getting fancy with that x.)
Anyway, my point: I watched like 5 episodes of Vice yesterday and realized that we REALY are not preparing urban students for this new world and the newer world that will be there once they graduate HS and college.
Between Russian hackers, wind technology, microbes in the gut, Puerto Rico’s bees (you know if bees go extinct we all die, right?) refugees crossing borders, numerous countries facing civil unrest (Venezuela, Catalonia, and Turkey to name a few) the pneumonic plague in Madagascar and California Wildfires…whew. We got lot’s of problems to solve!
I know these things seem like doomsday signs, but I see opportunity. I see problems that need to be solved and an entire group of young people being denied access to the opportunities to solve these issues.
I mean honestly, aren’t you tired of having the same conversations about how Raekwan can’t read, Lisbeth need to learn impulse control, teachers ain’t ish and parents need to do better?
I know I am.
There is an entire world of opportunity out there and we’re equating college and career readiness with the score on the Algebra Regents.
Ok, wait. I do need students to get that 80 or better.
I’m just so excited at the possibilities for young Black and Brown students if they could just get the opportunity to solve these real problems.
My Bae and I were talking last night about skill acquisition and empathy and all the many skills and mindsets that teachers need to have in order to really support the intellectual and moral development of our young people. I think that the teachers who have come into the system in the last 10 years really really want to make a difference in the lives of urban students. But, I wonder about their (and my own) academic abilities. After all, most of us are products of the same failing ass public schools that we now work in.
Like, when I came into teaching as an English and History teacher, I didn’t know A LOT. I mean, I couldn’t identify the subject verb agreement. What was a prepositional phrase? I didn’t know the themes of history and why they were important. What were the ancient kingdoms of West Africa? I did not know A LOT but a random test said that I was proficient enough to teach young people. And luckily I learned, but at whose expense?
It took me 5 years to learn content and then another 5 to learn pedagogy and then I left the formal position of teacher because I was burned out and tired and uninspired and tired of fighting White Supremacy all alone.
Luckily, I became an applied researcher in the field of education.
My point is, having your heart and even your mind in the right place will not be sufficient in providing access to the new economy and the new world. We can’t just love our kids enough for them to gain access or make them ‘woke’ enough for the world they’re entering without SKILL acquisition.
Yeah, I made it in life on wit, charm and a quick brain, but this new world, as my friends would say, “dat nah guh mek it.” You need all of that and technical and academic acumen.
Gone are the days of getting a good government, manufacturing, transportation job. There will be two kinds of people in the future, low waged, unhappy, unfulfilled people and innovative, passionate problem solvers….ok, ok, ok, the 1% will be there still, along with athletes, actors and musicians. My point: the Middle Class is a thing of the past. Shoot all of these designations may no longer exist in 10 years.
And this doesn’t scare me, I’m about always being prepared.
The NY Times had a piece this weekend titled: Global Economy’s Stubborn Reality: Plenty of Work, Not Enough Pay. It was a fascinating read. Ok, maybe not fascinating but it really got me thinking about what we’re preparing our students for. There’s so much talk about how Millennials will have less than their parents but very little chatter about why. O Magazine had a long ass read on The New Midlife Crisis: Why (and How) it’s hitting Gen X Women. Now listen I’m a Gen X’er and though I haven’t had my midlife crisis yet, I did experience my quarter life crisis and that’s when I became a teacher. But we’ll save that for another day. But everywhere it is a doomsday apocalyptic discussion about the future of work and living. Listen, them “good ole days” are gone. America will not be great again.
This is a global world. Possibly a borderless, universal basic income world.
The world is not the world we’ve known. It’s more complex, more global, more small, more within our reach. We’ve spent the last 63 years trying to figure out how to teach Black children in our public schools. Like the problem was with the children and their families versus the problem being with how, what and why we’re teaching.
Ain’t nothing wrong with Black children! I’m taking a note out of Ibram Kendi’s book. We talk about it in our latest podcast, Let the Children Live Part 2. And in the same breath, there’s something wrong with Black children, LMAO! Listen to the podcast for my rationale. I ain’t got time right now.
But, one of the problems is that we don’t focus on what’s right with our children, with our people, what do we love, what excites us, what makes us curious, what brings us joy. Can we use those things to provide access to this whole new world for our kids and ourselves? Everything about formal public education is stifling and killing our kids, ev-er-y-thing! And it’s stifling White and Asian students also.
It’s past time for the revolution and we can look back (Sankofa) to move forward. Have you read Teach Freedom yet? Is your Amazon Cart filled with books that you’ve been meaning to get to? Well, I need you to get to gettin’!
We got an answer for how to teach from our students strength. Mind you, I didn’t say the only answer. But I know it is an answer for a lot of the questions our students have. So, when we drop our Fall offering of the Woke Cypha and share our resources, we expect you to be all over it.
I am excited about the present and the future. I know that in my one borough, the borough of Kings, there are thousands of minds and hearts of young people waiting to solve all manner of problems and bring us joy.
One last thing; I was watching the Nightly News and they were talking about Houston, New Orleans, Miami, all of these places being hit by these super storms and they talked about the hundred year old sewage systems, levees, dikes, flood walls, pump stations, limestone and all types of porous stones and I thought, “Oh my goodness” look at all that new technology and opportunity for our kids to change the world.
They’re just waiting on us to help give them access.
So come on, lets catch up.