Recently I heard Pharell summarize my entire educational philosophy in one profound statement. When asked where he went to school, Pharrell replied:
The universe is my university.
I believe we are just entering into a new universe of education that will be so drastically different from its predecessors that we won't even have words to define it. And just as with any group entering into a new world, there will be great triumphs, but there will also be unknowns, challenges, pain, and failure.
In education we talk about foundations and building blocks, pathways, and transitions. Education as we know it is linear, and at its core are a select group of truth holders. Those who possess the knowledge, those who confirm degrees, those who decide which knowledge is relevant. But did you know that the universe has no core? There are an estimated 500 billion galaxies each with their own core, their own center. Educators who cannot accept that they are no longer the center will be pushed to the outer realms, irrelevant and unimportant.
Listen to this message from Pharrell to a boy battling cancer.
The past you can't change, the future you can only contemplate, the present is malleable. That's why it's a gift because you can do whatever you want with it. So my suggestion to you is to take this moment right now and recognize this is the new you.
We don't know what education will look like 20 years from now and we can't go back, but we can change today. We need to embrace the present, with all its strengths and challenges. We need to find and redefine the new "us."
Pharrell defies stereotypes. Black men have three profiles in our country: the hardened thug, the athlete, and the well-educated hero who defied all odds. This leaves only three options for our young Black males. They can live in their world as a criminal or, with tremendous talent and luck, as an athlete. Or they can go to college and live in the White world, but they can't do both. Pharrell is wildly successful as a rapper, producer, and entrepreneur, but what makes him a phenomenon is that his accomplishments cross racial barriers. He does not embody Black success, or White success. He is just success.
Young Black males need White advocates. Whether we like it or not, White people have privilege, and our voice carries far. White support for Blacks, their families, their culture, and their identity is critical to instituting change and lifting their community out of poverty. Embracing only the Black people who have assimilated into the White world is not accepting diversity.
Who else do you know that is redefining stereotypes?
Education's Unicorn: Parents Who Don't Care Students, did you know that if you are Hispanic, you are more likely to be in basic remedial classes? Fewer of you will be in AP and advanced classes. More of you will drop out of school. Many of you will not go to four-year colleges.
Breaking the Child Teachers and parents constantly lament over some child's willfulness. Certainly teachers need to be in charge of the classroom, but I wonder: How far would you go to gain control of a child?
Digitally Illiterate Parents I realized that many of our parents do not have the technology literacy for this type of communication. This made me wonder: What responsibility do we have in educating our families about technology?
From Fractions to Felonies (Part 1) Juvenile detention may seem like an odd topic for a math blog, but from my perspective, there is a direct correlation. To illustrate this, let's trace the path for a typical juvenile offender backwards.