Saturday, March 9, 2013

Misstra Knowitall's Greatest Educational Hits

I've been thinking a lot about teaching lately. I'm entering the phase where I can no longer pretend that I'm not into the profession for the long haul. You can talk trash all you want, but once you renew your certification after five years, you are committed. And that's okay. I love to teach and I love to help people learn.

Anyway, here's a few oldies but goodies that represent some of my thoughts around the subject.

We Built It, Now We Live In It

2008 was my first year of high school teaching and my first year of having a Black President. Listening to my students helped me understand the significance of both. 

Beloved Community: 

This was something I wrote for an essay contest when I was at Indiana University. It was all about Dr. King's concept of "Beloved Community," which I had never heard of before. King's words were powerful and made me think about my classroom as an opportunity for Beloved Community. Anyway, I won an iPod from the contest (Yeah!), which was ironically stolen (Boo!) by a student of mine during Teach for America summer training.

Elbows: A Meditation :

The game, and its adherents, often leave marks that can't be concealed. Seeing the president get his lip busted got me thinking about how I've been marked by experiences on the basketball court and in the classroom.

Standardized Teaching: 

Can we create an educational framework that's informed by data, but not enslaved by it? Although this is a hot topic in education, the answer to this question not only will determine the fate of not only our schools, but also our species.

Teaching Writing and Blowing the Whistle: 

My PE teacher taught me the virtues and vices of "Blowing the Whitstle" in my class when it comes to writing. In a test-heavy environment, sometimes the learning that can be easily assessed is the learning that gets emphasized the most. Writing should promote deeper thinking. If it's not, it should be rethought. 

Misstra Knowitall's Philosophy of Technology Education:

We teach our kids how to use technology, but we don't talk about why or when. The pace of technology is outpacing our ability to understand how it affects us. Technology should increase our capacity to think deeper, not occupy us more deeply in the trivial. What we teach our kids about it says a lot about who we are.

Real Talk:

A student at my school is killed. I had to skim this one, but you might want to read it. Still hard to think about.

Life After Death at ACT Charter school: 

What is it like to live through the slow death of a school? Terrible. What is it like when said school is resurrected? Terribly bizarre.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

All You Hip Hoppers

The only good thing about BluBlockers was the commercial and the only good thing about the commercial was when a brother stepped to the mic and instructed the hip hop nation to get themselves a pair of BluBlockers. That was the first commercial I can remember for white people that actually featured a black man rhyming. And although Dr. Geek had on a silly a$$ sombrero, this was no MC Hammer buck dancing for popcorn chicken.

What you say, Hammer? Proper.
Dr. Geek made BluBlocker millions and all he ever got was a free pair of cheap glasses. Same old story, but Dr. Geek can rhyme. Off the head, his flow bops along, brimming with wit and good nature. If he seems professional in his approach, its because he is. At the time Dr. Geek was working Venice Beach, rapping for tourists. Imagine being a large black man trying to make a living rapping at white folks who are on vacation to get away from large black men. He had to find a way to disarm them, without resorting to shuffln. Notice how he plays it cool about the glasses at first, but then lights up when the salesman gives him the pair. Despite his happiness with the free shades, he stays professional, even reminding customers to order them at home. 

You can call his flow corny, but Dr. Geek gets much respect as the ultimate blu collar MC.