With a new school year now upon us and kids finally settling down with their noses to the grindstone and lost tidily away with their books and assignments (yeah right) I wanted to make what I believe is a key message to parents. My daughter and I recently were discussing the catch phrases to name our generations. My mother is a “Baby Boomer”, I’m “Generation Y”, Jaiah is “Generation Z”. Each generation is described as having our own social distinctions and specific generalizations related to the era of our birth. For “Generation Y” , it’s those of us born from 1977-1994.
It occurred to me that our children, those descended from parents belonging to “Generation Y” have an advantage that we ought not take for granted. Our kids are born to probably the most literate, educated, liberated, exposed, technologically advanced, well-travelled, racially and ethnically diverse group of Black People alive at this time.
From a social and educational stand-point, this is a rather powerful tool in ways which can help us relate to our offspring. We really do have that “been there, done that” experience and at least in terms of all things mentioned above, we share many common traits in terms of generational social relativity. (That’s a mouthful of big words) AND we have Black Twitter which I believe is an undervalued resource in terms of networking, gathering input and direction for many topics of discussion, ideological influence and social commentary.
Now, having said that I believe that parents ought to feel empowered about the common bonds we share instead of being insecure about the challenges our kids face that we’re not so familiar with. Example, when I was a high school student, it was not commonplace for teenaged girls to be at school wearing shorts and skirts shorter than their vaginas : – | but this can also be used as a teachable moment by having a conversation about what is and what isn’t appropriate attire. You guys get my drift…
What I’m saying is that we all have the potential to be great examples and teachers to our children. If you feel that you have educational shortcomings, be the inspiration you want to spark in your learner. If you haven’t finished high school, I urge you to get out there and earn your GED to start. Take that college or university course you were always interested in. Aspire for higher learning because when we do, chances are they will too. Let’s expose them to the realities of our employment and show them what it takes to survive in the workforce. If you are unemployed, get out there and volunteer for a community initiative. If you are computer illiterate, take a free class at your local library. When we are involved and hands-on within our communities and we are open and expressive with our interests, passions and even our own insecurities, our children are exposed to a special confidence and they draw from that strength and eventually, they learn to do the same.
Based on the definition of “Generation Y”, children born to us should be the most socially and technologically advanced literate, educated and driven Black People on the planet. Sadly, this is not what is reflected in North American education and social statistics, business demographics or political diaspora.
In this world, education is not just about what we teach in the classrooms, it as much about what we teach in our living rooms. Every one of us has experience, skills and knowledge to share. Support your learners by inspiring them with the actions and experiences in your everyday lives.
Be that example of higher achievement and success. Be that good example of community involvement. Be that example of positive attitude, critical thinking and communication. Be that example of a hands-on teacher. Be their support system. Be that role model. We certainly have the tools, we certainly have the reasons to so,
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
I learned the hard way that often times when our children are reporting to us with conflict or having “issues” with their teachers, we as parents ought to believe them. Here’s why, many teachers simply do not have the wherewithal to effectively deal with the cultural differences that naturally exists between themselves and their students. After all, teachers are only people; Mere mortals and life can condition them to have prejudices and preconceived notions about Black people just like anyone else. However, when this spills over into the classroom, teacher-student conflict can easily contaminate the learning environment.
This is why I believe that discipline is of the utmost importance. A well behaved student can make the difference in how the teacher relates to him, her and their peers. When our children are not busy living up to the negative stereotypes, it’s a lot harder for the facilitator to justify his or her prejudiced attitudes and behaviors. Classroom management can be organized and structured around pathways for successful learning which is inclusive of all students.
Parents, please encourage your learner to use their manners and the “home training” that we work so hard to instill within them. Remind them that is our onus as parents to advocate on their behalf when conflict arises. If the child is in a position where they feel they must self-advocate, teach them to do so assertively yet politely until the adult care-giver can intervene. Not only does this show the teacher that the child is valued and supported, it reinforces to the child that they are safe and protected. It also helps to preserve balance in the classroom as no teacher will take being undermined or disrespected lightly which can lead to burned bridges even if the conflict was encouraged by the teacher to begin with. This can lead to a myriad of BS which ultimately distracts from learning.
With September fast approaching, set aside some time to sit down with your child and talk about the expectations that you have for them in terms of their performance, attitude, citizenship and behavior within the school environment. Having an open dialogue and establishing parameters for their conduct and deportment can help to better prepare them mentally as well as alleviate any uncertainty they might have toward their role in the classroom and that of the figures of authority they will have to deal with every day.
Back to school preparation is about us as much as it’s about them. Help them to establish goals, milestones and objectives for the new school year. Nurture their ambition, I promise you, it will help you to not only support their educational needs, it may save you some really nasty headaches down the road. It’s ok, you can trust me because I’m speaking from my own experience as an educator and as a parent.
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
As a new school year fast approaches, I’ll be posting articles which may help students and parents get ready to put their best feet forward this September. Although anyone can learn from this particular post, I emphasize that this is for Black students simply because of the reality. Expectations for Black students reading and writing abilities are much lower than the median for their non-Black counterparts. That’s it folks. In terms of literacy, our children are expected to naturally fare worse than their peers. I want to change this phenomenon.
Even without formal instruction, young learners will gradually learn the correct structures and rules of the English language. When a child is learning to read, they may use a variety of strategies to decode and understand the text but, in accepting this rule, we are first assuming that the student already has a good “grasp” of the English language. In terms of writing, we typically tend to gauge our child’s functioning skills by connecting that it is a reflection of how well they speak. This is a common mistake that many of us parents make. Although verbal skills and written skill are correlated, good speakers do not automatically make good writers. We all know people who speak effortlessly but give them a pen and they can barely string two sentences together. How about those of us who would simply die of embarrassment if people saw our writing through the lens of the autocorrect or spellcheck tools.
Many factors influence what determines good writing. Here are a few tips to help us parents support our children’s literacy needs. Getting into the practice of incorporating the things below can help develop writing skills.
- Good writing is clear and has an easily identified point.
- That point is supported with information.
- The information is clear, connected and logical.
- The words are appropriate and the spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are correct.
That’s it, four little tips to help our learners excel. In writing, practice might never make perfect but, it does help us to become better.
After the writing task has been assigned, it is helpful to begin with the basics; What are you writing and who are you writing for? Is it an essay? Short fiction? Book report? Research project? Thesis? Once the task is determined, identify the audience. Ensure that the target audience (teachers/peers/instructors/professors) can easily understand what they are reading. We may live in a ROFLMAO, SMH, WTF? Techno-social-media-short-form world but, in the realm of formal education; Spelling, grammar and punctuation all matter.
A learner who is in the habit of taking their time to write and the to proof read and edit will generally submit better written material.
Being able to identify and then connect the audience or reader to the content is very important. Writing which conveys emotion or feeling and even invokes sentiment within the reader demonstrates skill. Being able to hold the reader’s attention is an equally effective skill therefore, wording is paramount. In my experience, my students often try to impress me by using big words which isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact I encourage it. I am often affected and pleased by the effort however; Using relevant wording will often win over an audience easier than lofty wording or, by contrast using dull wording. These provocative tactics can sometimes backfire in either case by insulting the reader’s intelligence. I don’t know about you but for me, that’s usually an automatic turn-off. Students should be encouraged to explore language but, not craft sentences around words they feel will help them to show-off.
Don’t forget the content! The subject or topic being covered is the star of the show. The content must reflect the criteria of the assignment. I can’t name how often I’ve peer edited and at the end of reading I had no idea what the point was. This is a dangerous ground. Sticking to the point can be hard but, it ought to be the central theme.
The difference between being a mediocre writer and a good writer is a matter of semantics. It has nothing to do with talent! Being an effective writer is in understanding your own voice, identifying your weaknesses and writing around them. It’s being daring and risking being open in what you chose to write about. It’s about taking the task of writing beyond the course outline and using the parameters of the paper to do everything the instructor requires of you to get that ‘A’ and also revealing who you are as an individual.
Most importantly and I share this with my ESL students, but the rule is as true for native English speakers; The best way to become proficient in writing is to read, read, READ! I can’t stress this point enough. Avid readers tend to develop broader vocabulary as well as learn to identify and use various writing mechanics.
Parents, please understand that a good writing tutor might save you money down the road. Learning the mechanics of writing in grade 6, 7 and 8 will prepare your child for his or her academic future. By the time your child reaches high school and written communication becomes a major component of learning, they will already have the skills needed to easily express their thoughts, world views and opinions through writing. To write effectively is to communicate effectively which often translates into better marks and better grades resulting in greater opportunities for bursaries, scholarships and other free money to put toward post secondary education.
It’s not that good writing requires formal education, it’s that formal education requires good writing.
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
Greeting’s Everyone! I first have to say that the post Rant from a BlackYo Da! is a good article. Education is the key. America is already behind in Math and Science. We need to be competitive and it starts with parent’s getting involved. The story hit home for me because I don’t know where I would be without my parent’s involvement.
I barely made it out of high school and my undergraduate degree, but because I had parent’s involved in my life, I learned not to give up.
On another note, I need to thank Cedric McCay again. I discovered an education program going on in Johannesburg, South Africa. They are building future leaders. Please not that there is a donate button on the website. I am not recommending to donate or not. I simply saw that it appeared the school is doing positive things with a purpose.
Check out a preview by clicking the logo below:
In the event that you want to learn more, please check out the website by clicking here!
Read and listen Black people!
The success of the student isn’t predicated on whether or not the teacher believes in the student. That’s horse shit. Student success depends on parental involvement. I know the blue birds understand this. Now let me break it down for the buzzards: No child fails K – 3. It’s the parents who fail and must repeat the grade along with their children.
Let me break it down one mo’ again. Find any school. Find any parent who has a child in that school and volunteers at least 10 hours a month. Fuck it. 5 hours. That’s a little more than an hour a week. Maybe you come in twice a month and read to the kids, restock library books, patrol the hallways, whatever. From that list find the children who are failing. I’ll wait. Are you starting to get it? That’s it. That’s all you got to do. Be involved. And until that is our focus you can expect crop after crop of crap.
Ben Carson talked about his mother putting checks next to good points on his papers. She was functionally ILLITERATE! Do you see what she was doing for him? This cheating scandal and the subsequent commentary has me on a rant again. All this talk about the kids being hapless pawns, not getting the education they deserved, etc. I’m sure the lawsuits are in the works. These kids, for the most part, are getting the exact education they deserve. They are getting out of it what they and their parents put in to it. Check this out: I don’t even know half of you on my friend list, but I can tell from the things some of you post that you’re not the brightest bulbs. I can see this without even meeting you. But you have a kid that lives with you and you had no idea that your kid CAN’T READ! You have no idea your kid is in a gang. You have no idea your kid is an asshole at school. But I can talk to your kid for five minutes and have a good idea where they are in terms of grade level and, more importantly, in terms of attitude. And I know…yousa too stupid to undastand what dey is learning. ARE YOU READING THIS??!! Then you can do what was done for Ben Carson.
Maybe you can’t understand your son’s biology homework, but you can see if he’s bringing the work home, right? How about this? “Hey son, what are you studying right now? Chapter 11? Well then, tell me about it.” You don’t have to be an expert on mitosis just go to the chapter and ask him to define some key words. “Hey son, define prophase for me. I don’t think that’s right. I think you’re talking about a prophylactic. I was asking about the first phase of cell division.”
Do that periodically. If your kid shows himself to be a dumbass throughout the year, then how in the fuck do you think he passed a standardized test? Maybe he’s really a genius who smokes weed, gets suspended and got straight F’s because he wasn’t being challenged. That’s a possibility. Or maybe they just wanted to get rid of his ass without getting caught up in his vortex of failure you as a parent created for him since the day he or she was born. Maybe they were just hoping to make him someone else’s problem until s/he is old enough to become state property.
The educational system is like triage during the Civil War. Instead of gangrene, it has been shortened to gangs. Once they see the signs, they’re trying to saw that shit out and save the patient (the rest of the class). I get it. Teachers don’t want their livelihood to be dependent on some knucklehead (or several of them), who should be at the psych ward instead of their classroom. Teachers want to teach the content of their course, not their course and the two others that preceded it. No one is being honest about the problem and the root cause of it. Well, no one but me and a few other brave souls. For fuck’s sake, get a clue, people. I don’t even want to continue this anymore.
My name is Adrian. I will hopefully be sharing information on a weekly basis. I look forward to the positive discussion’s with each of you.
I am an African-American from Chicago. I have lived in several countries and I currently live in Cape Town, South Africa.
I want to briefly talk about an education resource that could be beneficial to everyone that I discovered on my trip to Kenya this past week.
First, in my opinion, education is a business. The goal is to find as many paying “students” as possible. This is done both in a structured environment and online. It can be expensive to go to school and find the resources for payment in some cases. This doesn’t include any other circumstances in everyday life. I have a love / hate relationship with the higher education structure system. I love to learn, but the tuition fees, books, and miscellaneous can be a challenge in regards to payments.
In the event that anyone is seeking to further education themselves without a tuition invoice or fee, then please check out Coursera.
“At Coursera, you can take courses from the top universities, for free”. In addition, the website has several courses in which you can receive a certificate. The only certificate that I have seen is a certification of completion that is given through the university of the course. Please remember that not all courses will provide a certificate of completion. I do not know at this moment if some of the courses provide a grade. You will have to check that out for yourself.
The website is: http://www.coursera.org
This documentary by Tony Harris takes an indepth look at the failure of the educational system, particularly for Black males and uses Baltimore’s inner city as the backdrop to address cartain issues. I found it rather fascinating that some of the issues he discusses are similar to the ones my wife and I contend with in Ottawa, Canada in regards to our 5 year old son. Although we reside in what could be describes as an upper middle class neighbourhood and our son attends a “good” school with dedicated teachers and abundant resources, we are forever cognizant and vigilant to the lower academic expectations and negative behaviour labeling that our “little Black boy” may be subconsciously or subtly subjected to by members of the school community.
However our son is excelling academically in school. He is enrolled in the senior kindergarden french immersion program. His success is due in large part to three factors. First, my wife and I take an active interest in his educational and athletic endeavours. We have made the commitment to take full responsibility for his education and not shift this responsibility to his teachers. We see them as a valuable resource in assisting us in his education and development. We have also enrolled him in piano lessons, which we find is a great tool not only in the development of his musical abilities, but also in his emotional progression as well as his logic and mathematical comprehension. Athletically, he takes swimming and ice skating lessons, plays organized soccer and T-ball.
Second, “we’re are constantly on his azz!” lol! He is fully aware and constantly reminded of our high expectations of his academic performance as well as his behaviour. He goes to school half day, so we have purchased academically based activity workbooks (math, science, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and logic), as well as writing exercises which we do with him when he gets home. He has lunch, then has to do at least an hour of this work before he is allowed to watch televison or play with his toys. He reads to one of us every night (we don’t read to him) before bedtime. He is only allowed to play his Wii on the weekends, i.e. Friday and Saturday evenings, if he has performed and behaved to our expectations! Therefore playing video games for him is a privilege and not a right.
Third and most importantly, his parents are married to each other and we all live in the same household. We are both Black and professionally employed. Neither my wife nor I have children from previous marriages or relationships, so we can focus all our time, energy and resources on him and his sister. He is also expected to do his chores, which includes assisting us in taking care of his baby sister.
Is all this the formula for success for Black boys? We don’t know, we’re just doing the best we can with what God has blessed us with. So far it is working for us. It literally punched me in my gut and broke my heart when a mother in the documentary discusses what her realistic expectations are for her son: click 31:48 – 32:45. It really brings home the point that by the grace of God go we all!