Skip to main content

Unity without Uniformity

Today, three students and I traveled to the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor to visit campus and hear Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. If you aren't familiar with his work, check out his website here.

I have to say that I chose those three students intentionally. They didn't know each other, they spanned grade levels, and they all had never been to the university. In the weeks ahead, I'm excited to continue talking to them about the experience and what we took away from Dr. Hill's speech.

Here are some of the words and phrases I scribbled in my notebook:

  • radical listening
  • contradictions
  • coalitions
  • dangerous truth-telling
  • complicating our narratives
  • succumbing to the analysis of others
  • paralysis of analysis
  • act bravely
  • obsession with remembering vs. willful forgetting
  • unity without uniformity 
Dr. Hill spoke about how there is so much talking but very little listening. He talked about the need to tell the truth and how the truth can isolate you and make others feel uncomfortable. He spoke about the need to act bravely, and that acting bravely means that you might be working alone. And on top of all of this, he spoke about the ability to unite without being the same. We need not conform in order to make change; we just have to see our common thread. 

Right now, I'm thinking about my classroom and education. I'm thinking about the needs of 32 diverse learners in every hour and uniting my students as readers, as writers, and thinkers. They don't need to share the same values, but I can help them see how their values, their goals, and their needs can connect. We can take risks, engage in meaningful dialogue and learning, and act bravely without the fear of retribution. 

I can listen radically to their needs and not to the prescriptions of others. I can radically listen to their interests in a world that would rather make those decisions for them. I can embark on a journey of dangerous truth-telling and share the complicated narratives--an idea that I'm thinking much about as I prepare a journey into Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird over the next few weeks. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Words

I get to school early and my students know that. This morning, a student that I’m not even particularly close with arrived at 6:00 AM in tears. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say to students and colleagues about the presidential election.
This student and I talked about fear. We talked about her history. We talked about how she encouraged her mother to vote for the first time—ever. We talked about how she can’t understand why people would vote for a fear-mongering, hate-talking candidate like Donald Trump. We talked about her experience Monday seeing President Obama for the first time, an experience that she was so motivated to make happen. Toward the end of our conversation, she said that she finally finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Not that I’m equating President-Elect Trump to the Dark Lord, but we talked about how even with Voldemort, people supported him. It may have been out of fear and group loyalty, but it was support nonetheless. And whil…

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent. 
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

On Competition and Donald Trump, Jr.

Listening to Donald Trump, Jr.’s speech makes my blood boil.
There are a few points that need our attention.
1. Competition makes education better.
Browse Diane Ravitch’s blog post about the competition that has run rampant in Detroit Public Schools. She references Donald Cohen’s post, where he debunks the myth about competition increasing student achievement. Cohen concludes the following: “If charter schools were systematically outperforming DPS schools, these lessons would be easier to stomach in Detroit. But the city’s charter schools are rife with wasteful spending, double dipping, and insider dealing, and many have been allowed to operate for years despite terrible academic records.”
And let us not forget the Detroit Free Press’ exposé on charter schools. Many do not disclose how they spend public dollars, and the majority underperformed when compared to traditional public schools. Quoting the Free Press, public dollars were misused in ways such as: A Bedford Township charter sc…