I'd like to say that my absence from blogging related to some adventurous vacation, but I can't. Instead, I just haven't had much to say about education. But today, as I started serious preparations for the upcoming year, I read a few thought provoking essays in City Kids, City Schools.
I am not one of those loony liberals who believe the system is keeping city kids down; although, it would be irresponsible to ignore the obvious disparities between urban education and suburban education. Some essays in the book make me want to vomit, but most at least offer a gem or two to encourage the urban educator--and to help improve instruction.
In Gloria Ladson-Billings' essay, "Yes, But How do We do It?: Practicing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy," I came across this important reminder:
Our responsibility to students is not merely for the nine months from September to June. It is a long-term commitment, not just to the students but also to society.
Since I began teaching, my syllabus has always included an overarching course objective: To Prepare Studens to Actively Participate in Society as Global Citizens.
Sometimes as educators, it is easy to forget that we have a larger purpose than passing a test--even our own vocabulary quizzes. We must prepare students for active participation in society. For the urban students, many of whom have experienced the disparities that economics and strong family units create, this preparation is often overlooked.
At my urban (though not located in a major city) school last year, one of my students questioned one of my assignments. It consisted of studying the Cambridge Audit report done at our school and write and editorial about its findings. He didn't see the purpose of reading the report.
By the end of the discussions and writing, the student thanked me for giving him the opportunity to evaluate his teachers and school without being labeled a trouble-maker.
My goal this year, in the bigger sense, is to create opportunities for students to analyze the world around them.