Reflections on Education and Race-Related Issues

by appaIoosa, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

The purpose of this page is to reflect on race-related issues and how they relate to education. These issues are sometimes situated in various media, though each entry I discuss relates to education in some way. Often, these issues relate to more than race — to gender identity and sexuality, and to socio-economic class and poverty — or the intersection of any of the above.

Each entry will contain the following elements, though these elements will be embedded throughout the post to facilitate a cohesive narrative:

  1. A short description of the entry and the personal or professional experience prompted your choice for this entry;
  2. How each entry is related to the concept of race/ethnicity;
  3. How each entry intersects with the U.S. model of formal education;
  4. How theories, practices and policies from scholarly literature inform the entry.

Rationale and Audience

Informing these reflections is the work of Paulo Freire (1970), wherein transformation (in this case, reflective transformation) is an ongoing process rather than a specific end state. In his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire describes the act of becoming conscious – conscienctização. Additionally, Freire describes the Banking Concept of Education, a focus of substantial criticism in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, in which rote memorization “becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor” (p. 72). In this context, learning results in a product only – that which is pulled from a student at test time. As a response to this banking concept, Giroux (2004) describes critical pedagogy as “a form of political intervention…that is capable of creating the possibilities for social interaction.” Intervention, then, implies action – a process that moves towards Freire’s conscienctazação, an awakening to problems of poverty and of an oligarchical hegemony, especially a white, hegemonic structure. Additionally informing these reflections is the work of Kirylo (2011), who defines “critical pedagogy” as “living an examined life relative to the art and science of teaching” (p. 213). He goes further than this, however, when he explains that critical pedagogy is more than just “talk.” He quotes Steinberg in saying that “liberals talk…radicals must do” (p. 215). 

The “doing” in this context is reflection, which will further inform my own teaching practice and research. Reflection is a valuable tool for student engagement (McConne, 2018; Poldner, Van der Schaaf, Simons, Van Tartwijk, & Wijngaards, 2014). In my own practice, I have found that reflection is a good teaching and learning practice, and when combined with creativity, inclusive of multimedia, in this case, my desire is that reflection becomes that action – a process, in this case, that leads to a transformation.

It should be noted that the posts that follow are directly related to a doctoral class taken at the University of South Carolina — EDCS 722: Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Classroom. However, my desire for social change and for radical transformation go far beyond the classroom, though they are firmly rooted in the co-construction of meaning and the lived experiences of myself and my colleagues as we seek to “see the contradiction between [our] words and [our] actions” (Freire, 1985, p. 18). In the words of Paulo Freire,

[Teachers] can become shrewdly clear and away of their need to be reactionary, or they can accept a critical position to engage in action to transform reality. I call it “making Easter” every day, to die as the dominator and be born again as the dominated, fighting to overcome oppression. (p. 18)

Freire, P. (1985). Reading the world and the Word: An Interview with Paulo Freire. Language Arts, 62(1), 15-21.

In part, the following posts are an attempt to live into the reality that I can be a person accepts a critical position. This is something that I have control over. But there is a very important, additional element of these reflections: I want them to be accessible.

An element (certainly not the only element) within equity in education is access — and the Academy — the collective group that embodies knowledge and education — is a gatekeeper of that knowledge. It is my wish that all references, all pictures, everything that I have in these posts, whether scholarly or not, are accessible to all. To that end, I will link to websites, interviews, and journals that are open access. I will use images that are licensed through Creative Commons. If something is not available publicly, I will do my best to describe how it can be accessed. This is part of dismantling my own privilege and being willing to do the work that it takes to empower others to do the same.

Feel free to email me or to follow me on Twitter @TheLegoProf and share your comments and thoughts with me.

References (This Page)

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

Freire, P. (1985). Reading the world and the Word: An Interview with Paulo Freire. Language Arts, 62(1), 15-21.

Giroux, H. A. (2004). Critical pedagogy and the postmodern/modern divide: Towards a pedagogy of democratization. Teacher Education Quarterly, 31(1), 31-47.

Kirylo, J. (2011). Paulo Freire: The man from Recife. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 

McConne, J. (2018). “Why are we doing this?”: Using digital reflection to increase student engagement. Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, 11(2), 13–22. doi:10.18848/1835-9795/CGP/v11i02/13-22.

Poldner, E., Van der Schaaf, M., Simons, P., Van Tartwijk, J., & Wijngaards, G. (2014). Assessing student teachers’ reflective writing through quantitative content analysis. European journal of teacher education37(3), 348–373. 

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