Please list in the comment section any issues you would like to see included in future editions of my virtual newspaper!
Please list in the comment section any issues you would like to see included in future editions of my virtual newspaper!
I have written several posts about the unaddressed bullying of my Asian American daughter (who excels academically and athletically) at her former school. After some brief research, I soon learned that my daughter’s mistreatment was not unusual for Asian American students attending American public schools. In response to this bullying epidemic and other issues facing the Asian American community, President Obama established the AAPI Initiative to seek redress for these issues.(See http://www.whitehouse.gov/aapi.
The article linked below contains numerous resources of assistance to one seeking information on bullying of Asian students.
When I made complaints to coaches and administrators at my daughter’s former school system about the stream of racial slurs made to my daughter (“chink”, “slant eyes”, “nigger lover”, and ” Commie”, to name a few), none of my complaints were taken seriously and no investigations initiated as required by Federal law. My wife did receive a call, though, after one of my complaints, from an assistant basketball coach and wife of the athletic director, questioning my sanity and “instructing” my wife that,”There is no racism going on at this school system.” And to make sure my wife received the message, the coach/AD’s wife asked a rhetorical question, “You understand what I am saying don’t you?”
It wasn’t until the Asian American Legal Defense and a Education Fund (AALDF), an outstanding civil rights group out of New York City, became involved (and their complaints were ignored for weeks until the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) was contacted and KDE specifically directed the school’s superintendent to conduct an immediate investigation into my and AALDEF’s complaints). Many weeks passed before the school district even made contact with AALDEF, and to this day continues to delay or block any attempt at resolving the issues, though investigations are ongoing with the U.S. Department of Education and Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
It did not take long after the school board hired an attorney to begin a smear tactic against my daughter and me, which in a small town got back to me fairly quickly-comments such as: I was only trying to line my pockets with the school district’s limited budget because I am an attorney and that’s what attorneys do. I was going to sue all of the parents individually for the slurs “allegedly made by their children”. I wanted to destroy the name of the school district. Blah. Blah Blah. [In truth, I DID NOT FILE THE COMPLAINTS with the Department of Education and Department of Justice. AALDEF filed in their own name on behalf of my daughter after their many attempts to enter into negotiations with the school district were ignored or not taken seriously. Additionally, I was captain of my football team there, still use my number76 in my Twitter handle (terryclarke76) and gmail email address (email@example.com) and my late father and two of my close cousins are in the high school’s Hall of Fame. In short, I had no interest in destroying the school’s reputation. In fact, as incredible as it appears, those associated with the school have openly questioned my motives that I was concerned with improving the climate of cultural tolerance in the schools within the school district though I am on my city’s Commission on Human Rights, and consciously made the choice not to sue the school for money damages.]
The site linked below is a story a television station (WDRB) in Louisville filmed and posted in an article on its website. The sports reporter, Eric Crawford (who has an outstanding reputation as a national basketball reporter) came with a camera man and interviewed my daughter and me for hours after driving 3 hours to my home in the extreme Northeastern part of Kentucky where it touches Ohio and West Virginia. We only consented to two more interviews, one with an Asian American reporter I have always admired, who was the former host of NPR’s All Things Considered, and Mellisa Issacson of ESPN who wanted to seek my daughter’s opinion on bullying in the locker room of girls sports teams as the Richie Incognito–Jonathan Martin saga was unfolding. We turned down countless other interview requests because neither my daughter nor I wanted to bring attention to ourselves. A link to Ms. Issacson’s story on ESPNW story is also included below the link to WDRB’s Eric Crawford’s story.
This is the same school system which was placed on probation for openly cheating during the State’s regional Governor’s Cup competition. This is the same system whose supporters claimed that this school district was too “culturely sophisticated” for their students to ever utter a racial slur, not a single one, though my daughter was the only minority on her basketball team and it was her teammates who admitted they hated my daughter. Bear in mind the link at the beginning of this post was from an Asian American living in Kentucky’a second largest city (Lexington) and much more culturely diverse than my daughter’s former essentially all-white school located in the Appalachian area of the State (the hillbilly part). Despite the school district’s representatives claims that all of its schools “embraced diversity”, this school system has the reputation in the area as one of arrogance and intolerance. When the state’s ruling body on academic competitions issued a lifetime ban to the high school’s academic team coach from ever coaching in, or even attending, academic contests, the media asked the school’s principal if the cheater would be fired. The principal’s response, “Heck no. He made ONE mistake and they Pete Rose’d him.”
So . . . Does anyone actually find the Appalacian school district’s position credible that racial slurs against Asian American DO NOT OCCUR at their rural school when those slurs occur daily in the halls of the schools in the State’s urban areas?
The article from the Education Law firm referenced below provides a very concise, but accurate picture of the general state of the law regarding bullying, as it now exists. Here's to hoping school administrators (not all of them, of course, because I've m
et some very good ones) spend more time in changing their school system's climate that tolerates (or, at times, instigates) the harassment of students from diverse cultures, and spend less time trying to protect those in their good old boy network and less time focusing on preserving the cronyism status quo. Adopting a curriculum that extolled the virtues of tolerance and the importance of diversity should be a top priority for all school administrators.
The link below shows another superintendent rambling about his school days as both victim and bully and both the shame and guilt he continues to experience. Other than currying favor with those families with family members who have been victimized AND with those whose family members engage in the victimization, what does his article say? Yes–bullying hurts many people. Yes–the effects of bullying lasts into adulthood. But now that he holds a position in which he could effectuate REAL CHANGE, what has he done or what steps, if any, has he considered to STOP or implement to mitigate the effects of the victims and hold the bullies responsible for those actions he considers so heinous.
His rhetoric is, quite bluntly, what WE DO NOT NEED to effectuate real changes to stop the bullying in our schools–not some maudlin, reflective piece by a school administrator perfectly balanced to maintain perched atop the fence, straddling both sides.
This is a very interesting concept in education–one I have found to be very effective in the graduate university courses and seminars I have taught. The style I have found most beneficial to my students learning complex and controversial material is to: (1) I begin each course period with an overview of the concepts to be learned and applied in that period [Students are warned in the initial introduction class that a if they fail to complete the assigned reading in advance of attending the class, there is little chance for mastery of the material.]; (2) After completing my lecture and handing out to the students copies of my lecture materials, I randomly and arbitrarily assign each class member to a group of 3-7 students, depending on class size [To assure the best random sample possible, I base placement into groups on arbitrary, meaningless criteria such as zodiac signs, favorite cartoon characters, and so forth.]; (3) I then pass out to each “small group” a written hypothetical statement of facts, prepared in advance of class and using the students names as the “characters” in my “stories” (and given that I have primarily taught environmental/natural resource courses, the characters are typically engaged in activities viewed as compliant or non-compliant with statutory and case law and guidance and regulations, in numerous ways); (4) Each small group is required to appoint a spokesperson and then provided a given length of time (typically limited to 30 minutes to avoid extemporaneous conversations) to IDENTIFY each relevant issue spotted in the hypothetical story, IDENTIFY each character's culpability listed in the story (liable versus compliant, etc.), and PROVIDE A WELL-REASON CONCLUSION FOR EACH ISSUE; (5) I reassemble the small groups back into their ordinal seating configuration, and then I ask each group leader to identify each issue in the “story”, the potential fate of each character–all supported by a reasoned conclusion, and I then ask which issues were most controversial among the group, (6) Finally, we have a general class discussion in which I answer any questions, point out issues which every missed (and explain why those were important enough to be identified and analyzed).
I am not suggesting my teaching technique is unique, that I “invented” it or that it isn't less effective than other teaching styles. All I can say is that the rapid evolution of the students' critical thinking skills and mastery of the materials throughout the semester is shocking to me each time I teach a new course. I have been told by students in every class, who come into my class with diverse educational backgrounds (degrees in Biology, Engineering, Occupational Health and Safety, Geology, Teaching, Law, Political Science, and Physics, to name only a few), that my course is the first course, at any level, that they have ever been made “to think”, rather than memorizing copious amounts of information and “puking it out onto an exam” –never to think about how it might be applied in “the real world” or ever thinking about the material again. I am also frequently told, particularly by those students with a physical science background, that at the beginning of the course they felt I was being evasive by refusing to reveal “the correct answers” to their questions, but instead suggesting to them that there is “no” wrong answer, provided the answer is responsive to the question and backed by a strong, well-reasoned analysis. Typically, those students would tell me the lightbulb came on just about at the midpoint of the semester, and that they then became comfortable with working with subject matter that is very gray, as opposed to the black and white world through which their physical science courses were taught.
In order for the small group discussions to continue to be dynamic, I must reassign students to new groups each new class–so they can experience the collective experience with all of their classmates (and to avoid the problems with cliques, but exposing them to the real world working environment by rquiring every student to work collectively, toward a common goal, witth students from diverse educational, socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic and racial bakgrounds).
I realize that I have used, actually overused the term “critical thinking” in this post and it is now fashionable in academia to bemoan the inability of this current generation of students to critically think, but rest assured, I slowly developed my system of teaching over the last 15 years because I observed first hand the students in my graduate classes the dearth of students possessing the ability to critically think. I was caught completely offguard 15 years ago when an entire class of students (except one, whom I will list by name–Cory Wilson) would respond any time I asked a question that required an answer based on reasoning and analysis, “What page is that on, Professor?” In any event, I am not simply jumping onn the bandwagon decrying the loss of critical thinking skills nor do I even have a working defintion of the term. I simplistically view the term “critical thinking” just as did U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart viewed hard core pornography in the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), in which he infamously and imprecisely stated, “I know it when I see it.” Only in my case, the reverse is true: I know it when I don't see it.
I am always interested in learning of teaching styles which require students to “critically think” in an effective and enjoyable way . . . so please feel free to share with me any tecniques that have been beneficial in your teaching experience.
Below is a link to an excellent article written by Robin Bartoletti regarding her experience with connectivism.