Two years ago, I wore crochet braids as a protective style. I was just getting into the whole natural mojo, and thought it would be a great place to begin. Surprisingly, the white people in my school were extremely supportive of the protective style, most even believing it was my hair. But had me taken […]
Our kids are in CRISIS.
I work with teenagers in an affluent suburban area.
They don’t comprehend what they read. They use calculators to multiply 10 x 10. The average high school junior has no clue what the word “diligent” means.
They write essays resembling those of a 5th grader. About how Albert Einstein discovered electricity.
In tests administered in reading, science and math to 15 year-olds globally, we are behind TWENTY NINE countries in math. And our kids’ performance in reading and science is not much better. And yet, American investment in education is unrivaled, globally.
Are you scared yet?
We lead the world in the consumption of illegal recreational drugs. And one of the chief sales outlets?
Our teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world.
EVERY DAY there are over 5,400 suicide attempts by kids in grades 7 – 12.
NOW are you scared?
The two places teenagers…
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One of the unfortunate characteristics of our generation is that we have tended to live highly structured lives. Those of us born in the 1980s, who spent their twenties in the transitional era of the early 2000s, amidst the violent cacophony of the two Bush Wars, have experienced at least some shared sense of structure to our lives.
The typical life of an upper-middle class son or daughter born in Canada during that generation would go something like this: a childhood spent in public schools, with no lack of activities in which to immerse oneself (soccer, piano, theater, etc.). Then high school hits, with its swirl of hormonal desire combined with the looming pressure of standardized tests. It is generally here that the adolescent learns the rhythms of capitalist work-time: school during the day, nights filled with study and ever more structured activities.
If the student is lucky he or…
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When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.
Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…
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