Why Are They” So Angry?: An American History

ANGER HANDS UPLooking into our nation’s history, the honest, people’s history, we become very aware that the country was built upon the racist perspectives cultivated and necessary for America to grow and flourish. This growth, depended largely upon the perpetuation of an ideology that dictated a belief in the inherent superiority of the original settlers and those immigrant Europeans who sought prosperity in this newly ‘discovered’ land.

The first task was to build an infrastructure, and labor was needed to construct our first cities, towns, municipalities, and we needed an economy to feed our survival.

The native Americans were not chosen as laborers mainly because we drove them off the land, through ‘questionable’ negotiations, and then created some myth about a ‘peacepipe’. It was not feasible to ask, demand, or even consider their return to help construct and build upon the very land taken from them; they owned ALL of the country, anyway, at that time.

The settlers were not strong enough, physically or mentally to withstand the climate here, and the land that they fled enabled them to justify the same, similar or worse system of indentured servitude, under which they had been ruled.

Now, as we fast forward a little, there is a new breed of worker…the enslaved African. They were strong enough to withstand the heat, and once captured, they couldn’t leave this land to return to their own. First of all, on the voyages here, they were mainly kept below ship deck, and didn’t know where they were going, or where they started out before being taken. There was no landmark from which to negotiate a safe or prompt return.

Now that these people were brought here to literally build this country from the ground up, they also were needed to maintain our economic survival. It is very difficult to hold someone in bondage for very long before they begin to rebel, and devise strategies for an escape to freedom. Psychological control had to be a major component that enabled them to continue working for no wages, living in sub-standard housing, eating the leftover meals to sustain themselves, and withstand the traumatic separation from their friends, family, children, and spouses.

Laws had to be put in place to protect the interest of those who kept these Africans in bondage, and the most significant piece of this country’s survival was that in order to perpetuate this type of cruelty being inflicted upon other human beings, it had to be believed and internalized that these people were sub-human.

Everyone had to believe this, both whites and blacks.

Take away a man’s dignity and what has he got, when he has nothing else-savage, animal-like behaviors, and great anger.

The anger felt by enslaved peoples had to be internalized, kept to themselves, or consequences were grave, to say the least.[Hence, ‘Black on Black’ crime, although every group- racial, cultural, ethnic- has similar incidents of pain inflicted upon one another. It is only that we highlight and emphasize violence in the black community to divert attentions and excuse ourselves from addressing the bigger societal issues.]

Anyway, imagine an extreme amount of pent up anger for a lifetime. With essentially continued societal ‘conditions’ that produced that initial anger, this meant that your descendants would also feel anger, that would become even more intense.  Wealth and power were systematically kept out of general reach, and education was unsupported, discouraged and dis-allowed. Once our educational system became a ‘public’ right, though already highly valued and accessed by whites, there were other masked conditions that ‘spoke’ equality and ‘separate but equal’,  but were simply reflections of a former mindset re-visited.  Second-class citizenship,  Jim Crow, and segregation were all key legally sanctioned forms of perpetuating negative stereotypes, and the continued de-humanization of blacks in America.

Blacks, after release from bondage, were still viewed through the same lens, treated the same, and still not ‘free’ people. The “American Dream” was, as written by the poet, Langston Hughes, was “A Dream Deferred”.  Social realities, for the African American citizen, had carefully masked unchanged, slightly altered and re-phrased laws in place that served as subtle obstacles to prevent their grasp of that dream. Hence, more anger. Yet, sometimes, borne out of anger is great determination and strength.

There was and still remains incredible amounts of inner-strength and resilience, that didn’t factor into the plans and laws and policies and practices created by the ‘original sinners’ of this great nation. In fact, even today, these real protective factors and quality traits of the ‘collective’ group of Black people, descendants of the original enslaved Africans, are not highlighted or held within the conscious minds of the ‘dominant’ culture in America. So, a nation of non-blacks are in sheer disbelief and also in such fear and denial that chants such as, “Black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace” have disrupted the usual conversations in America.

But, isn’t that what the process of positive change does….disrupt? Progress can only be made with a disruption of an established norm. Look at the internet, how disruptive! Back to this question of anger…. trust me, if it were you or I, by today’s standards, we would not have what it takes to last or withstand that type of external, social, and psychological control. We didn’t start the fire, but we can acknowledge that there are flames that we can extinguish. That, we can certainly do!

The good news is that you nor I hold that ‘FIRE’ within our personal past, as a guilt filled memory. We didn’t do it-any of it. This is the history of our nation, and maybe some of our own ancestors and very distant relatives were instrumental or even key players of this history……..but it is history nonetheless.

The best thing that we can do, individually and collectively, is to start living today more empathically, compassionately, and respectfully as a nation with an incredibly rich history that boasts more tolerance and appreciation of its diversity. We can acknowledge the strengths of us all, and especially critical, is that we encourage all children to become their best selves and promote their discovery and realization of their innate potential to become culture creators, not consumers alone; mindful leaders, not mindless followers; information producers, not only information consumers; influencers of culture and not simply influenced by culture and society. They will lead us someday!

This story reflects a brief history as told by a non-historian to expand awareness and promote empathy-not sympathy. Begin to view ours and a people’s history differently, more mindfully, empathically, and consciously aware of the past and present challenges that are negotiated every day.

THINK RESILIENCE, GROWTH MINDSET, AND HELP SOMEONE GROW!

The past-we cannot change, and the future we cannot control. What we have is today!

Now, please share your thoughts and comments. The conversation has started!

 

What’s Common Core Got to do With Learning?

The Common Core State Standards has parents, educators and politicians all weighing in on the matter.  There is an issue of appropriateness, relevance and whether the implementation is only serving as another form of evaluating teacher performance on student test scores. Also viewed as experimental, these standards were adopted by schools across the nation without being piloted, tested or input of the practitioners themselves. Stakeholders who also should have been included in the decision making process ‘before the fact’ and prior to implementation in k-12 education, are parents. They’re necessary and vital partners in education, also representing, and giving voice as the best advocates for the children whose learning experiences are impacted by these standards in both public and private education.

I strongly advocate for the setting of high standards as they pertain to learning expectations, and the performance level of accountability of classroom teachers. The heavy reliance upon test scores, in regards to the determination of teacher performance, effectiveness, impact or qualifications, is unrealistic. It also does not measure the full extent of knowledge, deeper understanding, or overall student learning outcomes.

What about students with special needs? Although  accommodations are provided in accordance with IEP’s, for students with certain learning disabilities by extending allotted testing time, and considerations given by appropriately controlled environmental factors, some children are just not very good ‘test-takers’. The same is true among students in general education; some are also not great at taking exams, in written or computer-based formats.

Taking exams and performing at levels that will adequately demonstrate knowledge requires special skills and tools that, for many, students, must be learned. With that in mind,  is it appropriate to assume that teachers are indeed forced to ‘teach to the test’? Otherwise,  how are they to counter the impact that low scores will have upon their evaluations that assess their pedagogical skills? That question alone is frightening to ponder. In fact, that should not enter this equation.

There are lots of excellent teachers in the classrooms of our schools, and there are many educators who are under pressure by administrators of a system that equates test scores with teacher ability. This can serve to inhibit the growth of many educators who entered the field with a pure desire to teach ALL students. The need for standardization somehow is removing the freedom of expression for teachers that allow room for pedagogical mastery  with the autonomy to demonstrate creativity in their instructional delivery.

Every student has at least one  teacher that they will remember for many reasons. The teachers who seemed slightly ‘off-center’ and made learning fun and exciting are definitely at the top of the list of revered memories for students.   The  personality of educators are conveyed as they plan, teach, and engage students in the classroom. The best teachers are those who seem to effortlessly have a sense of self and a connection with the material as well as a strong connection with the class. Each child is an individual, as is the teacher. Teaching to high standards and aligning the instructional content with the common core should not prohibit a teacher from infusing his/her uniqueness into the mix.

The thing is that the world and the economy demands different skill sets than has been taught in k-12 education. The common core is nothing more than expectations pertaining to content knowledge gained at each grade level. What becomes my issue with this new framework is that it shapes practices, supposedly for the benefit of learners in preparation for citizenship within a global and competitive economy. Yet,  we still can’t fix the problems with educating our nation’s children. We must broaden our perspectives on learning and broaden our mindsets as educators to arrive at a more comprehensive actionable plan to crunch the numbers.

We can’t judge or determine mastery of sound evidence based pedagogy, or deep understanding via standardized student learning assessments alone. There is a delicate mixture of factors that enable better, more accurate determinations. Teachers are not one-dimensional, and likewise, the same goes for students. Addressing teaching and learning from a holistic lens, we see that for the most part, teachers are not changing ‘what’ they teach and have always taught. The difference lies in the fact that teachers need to make changes in the ways or ‘how’ they teach content to students today.

I also feel that a critical component that underlies this new ‘rigor’  in the most relevant implementation of the common core curriculum is the ‘mindsets’ of educators themselves. Besides engaging students in the learning process and differentiating instruction, we need to address cultural competence. We must address the implicit bias that seems built into the system that influences every aspect of our lives, including worldviews and impacts upon decisions we make on a daily basis. Largely unconscious, these biases, held by us all get reinforced by stereotypes, and  our own limited experience. It affects how we teach, how we encourage, discipline, and interact with diversity and can be detrimental to student engagement, achievement, and can prevent impartial assessments. So, what does the Common Core State Standards have to do with improved student learning outcomes, or teacher performance evaluations?

 

My answer is…..nothing…..

without the critical systemic top-down mindset adjustments to expand the framework of education in such areas that better prepare schools and staff to become more inclusive in scope of practices, policies, programs and perspective For now, the common core is only a response to symptomology but not an answer to what we must do to equip ALL children for future global citizenship. If you have thoughts about this subject, I would love to hear them. We can collaboratively find that ‘center’ that balances policy, perspective and practices that lead to  positive school experiences for ALL members of school communities everywhere.

Why Students and Parents Need to Create Their Own FSA IDs

Now implemented as a login identifier for filing the web-based FAFSA, the FSA ID replaces past ID used to enter the application portal at FAFSA.gov.  Parents and students are advised to create their own separate ID’s to complete the process of determining eligibility and the first step in applying for college financial aid.

fsa id The link to the related article is found here:

Source: Why Students and Parents Need to Create Their Own FSA IDs