Don’t Shy Away from the World

Angela Ward
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
10 Minute Read
February 23, 2021

As an elementary school teacher I learned to love science and social studies. I used the subjects as authentic connections to the world around us, and authentic events to connect to my students learning. The events January 6, 2021, in our nation’s capitol were disturbing, but not surprising to me as a black woman. On that day I called on my experience as a teacher and critical educator immediately reflecting on the unrelenting rhetoric that had been spewed by the leader of the free world to encourage and build to the fever pitch that boiled out of control on that day. I wrote a letter to leaders in my district urging them to consider the space we create in our school environment January 7, and through the rest of the school year. I needed our leaders to understand that inaction would have a lasting impact on how our students remembered this event.

Critical pedagogy calls on us to question why things are the way they are. A critical educator has to understand their role in the system of education and recognize the power they possess to effect change for student success.

The real world as it pertains to district adopted curriculum is revisionist and creates no space for the conversations needed after major events like the one at the U.S. Capitol.

Schools receive state adopted textbooks to teach curriculum in schools. What happens in the real world is that the textbooks are published by a small number of companies. What’s even more interesting is Texas, Florida, and California, three of the most populous states in the union are where the major textbook decisions are made for the rest of the country’s school systems. As educational leaders we have to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars entrusted to us.

The decisions to purchase textbooks made are based on the dominant ideology of what students need to learn in schools. This dominant ideology is expanding to groups of people with the time and money to harass #AntiRacistEd leaders who just want to open dialogue in schools about life in the real world. #AntiRacistEd leaders want teachers, school leaders, curriculum writers, curricular decision makers to understand everything about their work in schools is political. It is that politicization that cripples some school district decisionmakers from doing right by children and fighting to purchase the materials that will push teachers to engage in the critical pedagogy required to develop the critical habits of mind our students will need to be engaged citizens and successful adults.

Critique of the real world will have us question why the #BlackLivesMatter movement took hold outside the black community all of a sudden in summer 2020. Knowledge of the real world and its impact on the daily work inside schools will have us question why #NotInvisible or #SayHerName are even publicly stated or needed. A critique of real-world impacts will have us create the dialogue space in our classrooms, boardrooms, and conference rooms to speak with students about the impact of physical distancing to their social, emotional and mental health. Our babies, our adolescents and teens are hurting, we can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend like school will go back to “normal” if we can just get the buildings at capacity for face to face learning. Reopening schools will require superintendents and school board members to speak to students from all backgrounds in their system to understand what they really need as schools reopen. Throw the textbooks away, be human, be compassionate, show vulnerability!

#AntiRacistEd Reflection/Action: Don’t shy away from the real world. You are the only chance our students have to truly develop critical consciousness about the world. If you are a leader in a school or shape the learning for a school district bring natural connections to the world into the classroom space. You have critical educators in your schools, they are just waiting for someone to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work they are committed to, join them!

#AntiRacistEd #CiteBlackWomen

Angela Ward, “Don’t shy away from the world”, As originally published on 2ward Equity Blog, April 3, 2021.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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