Archive for the ‘Higher Ed’ Category
It feels like forever ago that I found out that my proposal to present at AERA 2013 was accepted. The excitement had worn off by mid-winter. It rumbled back when I registered for the conference in March and began combing through the 2,400 sessions offered from 6,000 presenters. The theme for the conference this year was Education and Poverty: Theory, Research, Policy, and Praxis. It’s now been just two days since the conference ended and I’m still running on the shot of oxygen the whole experience provided. I took the time to sit down and type up some of my notes to reflect on the many-layered voices that arose throughout the 4 full days I spent in over 15 sessions. I’ve utilized the poetic method, I Remember, made popular by the artist/poet Joe Brainard.
I REMEMBER AERA
I remember the excitement of finding out that my proposal, Art Unbound: A System’s Change Effort to Keep Art in the Conversation, was accepted.
I remember telling myself to write shorter titles.
I remember how proud their teacher Hodari B. Davis was and how it lit up his face.
I remember noting the names of some of the students. I want to be able to say that I saw them when they were young researchers.
I remember thinking YPAR is important because it reverts the gaze outward from the community and because it is the renewal we need.
I remember running to the Exhibition Hall first thing Saturday morning with my adrenaline pumping.
I remember spotting the Routledge booth and all those books and then finding Culturally Relevant Arts Education and thumbing to Chapter 6 to find my name.
I remember holding my breath, telling myself to remember this moment.
I remember passing Peter Mclaren in the hall and wanting to give him a fist bump when I realized he reminded me of a blonde Ozzy Osbourne.
I remember that panel celebrating the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education and thinking, “Who can afford $600 for those 2600 pages,” and then making a note to ask the Mills College Library to order it.
I remember that moment when Curtis Acosta told us, commenting on what it’s like inside Tucson Unified after the ban on ethnic studies, “I’m in jail every day at school. I can’t touch my curriculum, a curriculum that works. I have been turned into an instrument of hate.”
I remember to note that Curtis Acosta’s statements are his alone and that he does not speak on behalf of Tucson Unified. His Superintendent asked him to make that very clear. He told us he was using personal time to be in San Francisco.
I remember that seeing Curtis again makes me want to show the film, Precious Knowledge, to every class I teach.
I remember Julio Cammarota asking us to challenge colorblind politics by using the more nuanced terms of “alienation and isolation” as a way of “lifting the veil of colonizing knowledges” through the “decolonial imaginary” (Emma Perez).
I remember that Pedagogies of Love session and Antwi Akom, quoting Van Jones, “What if we built a movement at the intersection of the social justice and the ecology movements, of entrepreneurship and activism? What if we didn’t just have hybrid cars — what if we had a hybrid movement.”
I remember “diff in diff” and Greg Tanaka’s warning of the coming economic collapse.
I remember writing down, RENEWAL NOW.
I remember Pedro Noguera. And who doesn’t.
I remember that I can’t remember it all.
I remember to keep commitment at the center of all pedagogy and to always look my students in the eyes when they ask, “How down are you for my liberation?”
The MBA/MA Huddle skipped through three continents in ninety minutes. How? Keep reading.
The idea of global citizenship is the foundation for bringing more international and comparative education opportunities to the MBA/MA in Educational Leadership program. In defining this unique type of citizenship, attendees at the first discussion on February 14th were presented with a tangible pathway to secure it; a new course set to begin spring 2014.
True to the dedication Mills has to their students, we were given a direct line to voice our opinions, and leadership answered—on the first ring. The Huddle hosted a discussion with Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands of the Graduate School of Business and Dean Kathy Schultz of the School of Education. The deans shared their international history in their fields, and ping-ponged plans for future coursework.
Dean Schultz described how her partnership with the International Rescue Committee led her to teacher education initiatives in Southeast Asia and curriculum development in Lebanon. Collaboration with the existing culture was paramount to the group’s learning and development. Dean Merrill-Sands spoke to the importance of the “deep dive”; practical and principled immersion in another culture to help understand your own. As an agricultural scientist in Mayan villages to countries in West Africa, Merrill-Sands emphasized leading by inquiry and participatory action.
Both narratives echoed a complete reframing of how each work in the world today. The new international course will encourage the same transformative critique on how we work in relation to others.
International and comparative education encompasses a wide variety of points in education and humanities, but especially in business. It is neither limited to studying abroad, nor confined to exchange, but is synonymous with one of our favorite phrases at Mills, “multiple perspectives”. Participation in international discourse enhances soft and hard skills promoted in any career field. For MBA/MA students, many of these educational entities are looking for astute financiers and program managers to strategically advance their global mission.
The proposed course will include anthropological insight, case studies on key issues (foreign and domestic), and perhaps a trip for field experience, which garnered the audience’s applause. This course, matched with others currently offered by the GSB, like Multinational Business Strategies and International Finance, may eventually become a concentration in International Education or Relations.
During the huddle, we started with a definition. “A person entitled to the rights and privileges of a free man, loyal to the state or nation to which he was born.” A citizen.
In recent exposure to Michael Foucault’s ruminations on power, I fell upon his description of a “free man” or, the state in which one is free. Freedom, he says, is a “field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions…may be realized.” Foucault sees freedom and power in mutual existence, that where possibilities abound, action does too. Now think of where you live, of where you have lived, and where you would like to live. Did you consider yourself a citizen of your home address, or of a city in the Bay Area of California? Did you consider yourself an entitled free (wo)man who had a field of possibilities to behave in a way that was loyal to herself, as well as her larger zip code? Did you consider yourself a tool in a box of Pandora proportions, where the way the mundane choices you make in life directly affect your next door neighbor?
Today, we find that we are increasingly interconnected and must address different realities in the world around us. We are free women and men engaged in power relations that require us to talk, think, and act with multiple, global perspectives in mind. To build bridges and fill gaps across national borders, creating a more culturally-competent, socially just, and economically equitable world. To be global citizens, a seemingly cursory term, that has true meaning to students here at Mills who plan to take that meaning around the world and back. Join our class in the spring 2014 and stay tuned for more updates on our efforts!
Are you a global citizen? Tell us more about your citizenship here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1MJtKoQcGZbqo5QRDsu2ChrjJL8HSUbQwlmWLdCx8i9I/viewform?pli=1
The MBA/MA Huddle is a graduate group that offers a platform for action-oriented exploration of the intersection of business management and education, with a focus on innovation and reform.
When I enrolled in my first course at Mills College, I had no idea that it would be a course that explored the intersections of Hip Hop, higher education, and first generation college student narratives. Secretly, I was excited about the course because it had the words Hip Hop in the title, but I dare not tell my family and friends that it was my first doctoral course. Why? I had no idea how to articulate Hip Hop’s relevance in education, and I knew some people had skewed perceptions of Hip Hop as that rap music that only promotes violence, misogyny, and conspicuous consumption. For the uncritical consumer of popular culture, this is a logical conclusion. After all, these images are in regular rotation on the radio and in the videos, but my experiences at Mills College provided me with a more critical look at Hip Hop in its proper context.
Is Hip Hop rap music?
Hip Hop is more than rap music, and superficial sensationalism. Rap music is one element of Hip Hop, an artistic culture created by African American and Latino youth in the 1970s as a creative outlet to cope with oppressive socioeconomic conditions in the South Bronx of New York. Other elements of Hip Hop include graffiti art, break dancing, and deejaying (Chang, 2005). Later, Hip Hop evolved and became an essential part of American popular culture with a burgeoning international community in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Central and South America.
Does rap promote violence and misogyny?
No. Large profit driven corporations such as Clear Channel, “MTV, Viacom, AOL, Time Warner, cocaine, and Hennessey” promote and distribute media that perpetuate these messages (Asante, 2008, p.102). Yes, some rappers have written and perform songs that perpetuate monolithic stereotypical images of African Americans even though they do not believe nor live them in real life. However, many rappers have written songs about love, education, family, resilience, and social justice. But those songs rarely get commercial airplay because of the perceived lack of profit potential, corporations desire to reinforce negative stereotypes, or the lack of danceable beats behind the lyrics of well-intentioned rap artists who some times occur as preachy and self-righteous.
Hip Hop Enrichment Opportunities at Mills
Mills College reintroduced me to Hip Hop in an academic setting. I had always been a fan of Hip Hop, but I wasn’t sure how to share my Hip Hop passion in the workplace or in higher education. Then I heard one of the guest speakers in my first Mills course refer to herself as a Hip Hop administrator. I was shocked. What she said resonated with profound authenticity. Her words described my work experience in so many ways: using Hip Hop sensibilities in educational leadership. Since that first class, I have attended two annual Hip Hop conferences, hired an instructor to teach English using Hip Hop pedagogy, and presented six workshops on using Hip Hop in the classroom. As a fan of Hip Hop, I was happy to know that this community was alive and thriving at Mills.
In addition to my Hip Hop immersion at Mills, I enhanced my intellectual and academic bandwidth by getting involved. I not only attended special events featuring contemporary scholars such as Jeff Duncan-Andrade and Gloria Ladson Billings, I also attended readings and performances by my peers, organized a dissertation writing group for doctoral students, and performed at the Mills East Bay Boogie Café, an end of the year showcase of music, dance, and spoken word performed by students from Mills and the Oakland community. Each of these events enriched my graduate experience and provided me with a strong sense of belonging.
The old biblical adage, “seek and ye shall find,” could not be truer at Mills. I was seeking an opportunity to develop my speaking, teaching and presentation skills, and during the first two years I was given multiple opportunities to do so. During the first year, I was invited to present a workshop on Hip Hop and Higher Education with one of my professors and two peers at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE). During my second year, I was invited to teach a course, sit on an administrative search committee, present on several student panels, and facilitate a Hip Hop pedagogy workshop at NCORE the following year. Each of these experiences affirmed my Hip Hop educational leadership and my pedagogical voice. But Mills provided the constructivist education that valued this voice.
Asante, M.K. Jr. (2008). It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post- Hip Hop Generation. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Chang, J. (2005). Can’t stop, won’t stop: a history of the hip-hop generation. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
As states and school districts across the country embrace common-core standards, U.S. educators are in need of a public proving ground where standards-based instruction can be enacted and studied. What might such a proving ground look like?
In Japan, changes in national education standards cause ripples of activity across the country, as practitioners and researchers collaborate to bring their ideas to life in “public research lessons.” Here’s a simple example of how this process works:
When the topic of solar cells was added to the Japanese elementary curriculum, national guidelines specified only the basic objectives for student learning, not the specific teaching methods. Teachers and researchers, working collaboratively in dozens of small groups across the country, studied the available research and curricula (much of it from the United States). These teams then tried out their ideas in a local elementary school, progressively refining teaching materials and approaches based on student responses. After a year or so of experimentation, they opened up their instruction to others in large public research lessons.
The tens of thousands of educators, researchers, and policymakers who attended these public research lessons could see and discuss live instruction designed to enact the standards. They were able to question the teachers and researchers about the rationale for their choices, scrutinize the entire unit plan and records of student learning across the unit, and offer their own ideas and critiques. Each team focused on the needs of their own local students, but also drew on work by other teams when useful.
Over the first year or two of public lessons, information on how to teach about solar cells spread rapidly. A store of shared knowledge developed about practical aspects of teaching the subject—for example, which solar toys were inexpensive and made important ideas visible—as well as about the kinds of student thinking to expect, how to handle it, and the subject matter itself. One teacher observing a public research lesson, for example, asked about the scientific significance of some student strategies, including moving a solar cell closer to a light source, adding a second light source, and using a magnifying class to “concentrate” light.
“I want to know whether the three conditions the children described—’to put the solar cell closer to the light source,”to make the light stronger,’ and to ‘gather the light’—would all be considered the same thing by scientists. They don’t seem the same to me. But I want to ask the teachers who know science whether scientists would regard them as the same thing.”
The Japanese system of distributed, local, collaborative lesson-study work, culminating in public research lessons, enables educators to develop and share the many intertwined types of knowledge needed to implement standards well in the classroom—knowledge of instructional materials, teaching strategies, student thinking, and content. Such a public proving ground has several advantages over the processes of standards enactment currently familiar in the United States.
First, it recognizes that translating standards into practice is demanding, important, intellectual work. The final product of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, now being adopted here, represents an enormous accomplishment. But the standards are only splotches of ink on paper until a teacher brings them to life in a classroom. Their enactment in the classroom requires continuing experimentation, intense scrutiny, and the development of shared knowledge about what works and does not—in many different settings.
Second, it allows teachers to take the initiative in the implementation of standards and to bring their own important knowledge to bear. Public research lessons provide a natural incentive for collaborative between teachers and researchers, who share the desire to create effective lessons and document them in ways that enable others to learn from their work.
Third, it places students and student thinking at the center of reform. Although U.S. policymakers talk about “a marketplace of good materials,” how well can materials be judged without actually seeing students and teachers use them in diverse settings?
Fourth, it recognizes that the knowledge needed for standards-based instruction cannot be captured entirely in written documents such as frameworks and teacher manuals. Much of the knowledge for teaching is embodied in the instruction itself, and is spread and refined as teachers watch each other teach.
Fifth, it recognizes that improvement needs to be continuous. A static set of “best practices” on paper or video is insufficient because students are not static.
Sixth, it exerts much-needed pressure on textbook content and design. In the work leading up to public research lessons in Japan, teachers and researchers together review existing textbooks and research and choose what they believe to be the best approach. Plans written by lesson-study groups explain why they chose—and rejected—various textbook approaches.
Japanese publishers notice the conclusions emerging from public research lessons and revise textbook content to reflect what is being learned. That may explain why our recent study of two U.S. and two Japanese elementary textbook series found that the Japanese texts use the same four models to represent fractions, while the U.S. texts use 15 different models.
Finally, public research lessons provide an opportunity for policymakers to see how teachers and students actually respond to the standards in a best-case scenario in which teachers have adequate time and support to enact them. Because the policymakers who write the national standards attend public research lessons and see what aspects of the standards need further support or revision, the lessons also allow formative research on policy.
Moreover, policymakers, teachers, and researchers develop a shared understanding of the standards, based on instruction they have all seen and discussed. For example, after a recent public research lesson in California, something startling happened. While many of the nearly 100 observers thought that the mathematics lesson they had seen brilliantly realized the mathematician George Polya’s ideas about problem-solving, a few, including some influential state policymakers, could not see any relationship between the lesson and the state’s problem-solving standards. This gap in perception sparked useful conversations about the meaning of “problem-solving” in the state standards, and helped lead to eventual consensus: that solving novel problems—not just solving word problems with known procedures—was an important facet of the standard.
How feasible is such a public proving ground in this country? Experienced lesson-study groups already exist over most of the United States, and some of them hold regular public research lessons one or more times a year, using video and audio projection to accommodate large audiences. Many of these groups center on close collaboration between classroom teachers and university-based subject-matter specialists. And evidence is accumulating to show that the groups help their members build content and instructional knowledge, enhance student learning, improve collegial work, and spread teaching knowledge across the boundaries of schools and districts.
In the quest to bring common-core standards to life, we should consider the power of public research lessons. In a recent Education Week article on the implementation of common standards, a researcher described the process of developing curriculum frameworks this way: “When people go into a room and come out with solutions, it’s typically about money or politics. … So the question is, why are people going into that room? What are they after?”
What would happen if “that room” were a classroom? By using classrooms all over the United States as the public proving ground to enact, analyze, and refine standards-based practice, we could come out of the room with solutions that are not about money or politics, but about what and how students are learning.
This post was originally published in 2010 in Education Week (Vol. 30, Issue 03, Pages 28-30).
And so we begin again. In many ways the start of this new academic year is very much like every other year—the same excitements and the same hesitations. But there are two key differences that stand out for me—one personal, one public. What I just realized the other day is that I am embarking on my 40th year as an educator! Certainly not something I imagined would ever happen when I entered my third grade classroom in East Los Angeles for the first time in the fall of 1972—and certainly not so quickly—in some ways it is forever ago, of course, but in others only yesterday!
I also cannot help but think about the fact that this is an election year—an election year that seems very significant to me in many ways, but then, aren’t they all? The combination of these two circumstances has given me pause to contemplate, even more than usual, what matters most in this work that I/we are doing? How should I spend what must surely be one of the final years of my life’s work, especially given the times in which I am doing it? What should my focus be?
I wish I had something more grandiose to offer up, something more innovative, cutting edge, technological, specific. But I am afraid that after all this time—all this practical, theoretical, empirical work—all that I have experienced and read and heard in and out of the educational domain, I am more convinced than ever that the answers, the solutions are much more basic. I truly believe that the only things that can save us and our planet are human connections—connections that embrace, nurture, and embolden the inner spirits, joy, creativity, courage, care, and multiple intelligences of every child and adult with whom we make contact, and certainly with those whom we presume, at whatever level and in whatever context, to educate.
One of the reasons I am so committed to this right now is that in the forty years I have been teaching, I believe that we have gotten further and further away from this, which is especially tragic at the elementary level. An over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing via agendas/laws like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have caused us to rigidify, dehumanize, and narrow the elementary curriculum. Children are being forced to learn to read and compute at earlier and earlier ages, often at the expense of everything else, and in more and more mechanical ways.
As a result, my personal aims for this year and the remainder of my career are to emphasize, even more than I have been, creativity, care, critical thinking, curiosity, initiative—the joy of learning. As children learn and develop the knowledge and skills they must have, they can and should do so through hands-on/minds-on curricula that is engaging, enriching, and responsive to the learning strengths and needs of the particular children with whom we are working. We have to observe and listen carefully to what they are actually doing, saying, and understanding, and then respond appropriately, over and over again. And we have to let them know every day and in every way that they are wondrous, brilliant, and beautiful—our one true hope.
I was asked to reflect on what I’m thinking about this fall as the Director of Enrollment in the School of Education at Mills. In this role, I serve as a resource and advocate for those who are in the process of applying to our programs. I enjoy the opportunity to meet undergrads just starting to explore careers in education as well as experienced professionals; I hear from teachers in local schools as well as from international scholars. The diversity in interests and backgrounds of our applicants is impressive.
Throughout the admissions process, I get to know some of our applicants quite well, so it’s a pleasure to hear that they’ve decided to enroll and to know they’ll become part of our community. And each August, it is rewarding to welcome the new student cohorts as they arrive on campus to begin their studies at Mills. But after that first week of orientation, I’m not likely to see these new folks very often. I’m saying “good-bye” just as others are saying “hello.”
During the fall, when other staff and faculty are starting to forge relationships with these new students, I turn my attention to meeting our future students. At a time when faculty and staff are engaged in new projects and new classes are underway, I am answering questions from those who are inquiring about the following year and beyond.
So as I shift my attention to Fall 2013, I hope to find new ways to communicate what’s special about the School of Education with a new collection of future students. In my phone conversations with prospective applicants, I sometimes wish I could better capture the wisdom and enthusiasm of our students, the dedication and vitality of our faculty, and the commitment to equity and social justice that all of us share in this unique community.
It can be quite daunting to serve as the first point of contact and to adequately describe all that our programs have to offer. I have lots of material to draw from, of course, and our visitors are always impressed when they take a campus tour, sit in on a class, and/or meet with faculty and students. Our monthly Information Sessions will soon be under way, and I know they will continue to be a highly effective means of introducing someone to the School of Education. But I wish we could provide this experience to a broader audience.
In the coming year, I want to explore how technology might help us replicate what happens at these monthly events. For those who cannot attend in person, it would be helpful to provide a digital version, but I don’t want to simply convey factual information with talking heads. I want to capture the feelings that are expressed, the passions that are shared, the warmth of the faculty and staff who welcome our visitors.
So, here’s one of the things I’m thinking about this fall: how can we best use technology, including new social media, to most accurately and effectively communicate who we are to prospective students? More specifically, how do we use platforms that may be viewed as impersonal, anonymous forms of communication, to portray the warm, personalized, and undeniably human forms of interaction that characterize this community?
I also hope to broaden the audience itself. Many of the new students who were welcomed to campus in August initially found their way to us through friends, family members, or colleagues who recommended Mills. These personal and professional networks will continue to serve as the primary means by which new students discover us. We now have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and applicants use our website to learn more once they’ve heard about us. But do those platforms best represent what we’re really about? Under the leadership of our Dean and with the guidance of our new VP for Enrollment Management, I hope to find ways to expand our networks and identify prospective students who might not otherwise find their way to our website.
I invite anyone reading this to participate in these ongoing conversations about recruitment and admissions. I’m reachable by phone (510-430-3170) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org), so please be in touch if you have any suggestions.