Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reflection Paper for Educational Psychology

 I understand many of the experiences in “Decolonizing the Classroom”, an article by Wayne Au, because I've had many of the same experiences. Not so much being a Chinese student at a 50/50 Black/White school, but because most of my educators have been monologists, just talking to themselves, with little interaction with the students, nor facilitating dialogue, or creating new friendships. Vygostsky's sociocultural theory points to the schema we carry as individuals, and how through social interactions, we form those schema, those prisms of subjective perspectives, based primarily on our social circles. "You'll never fly as high as Eagles if you're hanging out with a bunch of Turkeys." ~Liz Jones

Garfield High School was considered a “Black school”, similar to how Central High School and Iroquois High School are considered Black schools in Louisville. Wayne Au was a Chinese man going to a 50/50 White to Black ratio student body at Garfield High School, with a few Latinos and Chinese peppered here and there. Garfield High School, located in Seattle's historically African-American neighborhood, which was the Central District. Mr. Anderson, a World History “educator”, called the Lychee Fruit differently than Wayne Au did, and instead of Mr. Anderson recognizing his culture and heritage as he had lived it, instead he berated him in class, and told the class that Wayne Au was wrong for pronouncing the name of the Lychee Fruit differently than himself. So Mr. Anderson, the fake World History teacher, was a monologist, with a huge ego. Only his opinion mattered, and it was incorrect. Wayne Au's personal experience was valid, just on those grounds: they were his experience. So since Mr. Anderson only considered his own opinions valid, he invalidated real opinions, and imposed a Eurocentric colonizer's prescription onto his oppressed students. By having an engaged, and active, and lively class, this creates the conditions for real discussion, and by having a multicultural education, this allows the students to have a more truthful, more useful, more important education, and by seeing what one can gain from a real education, the students will, hopefully, resist any other educators who tries to talk AT them, instead of talking WITH them.

Compare Mr. Anderson to Mr. Davis, who taught “Language Arts 10b” and a “Social Studies elective”, where the counselor would give resistance to any student who wanted to take the class, since it was know that those class names were really a Harlem Renaissance class, and African Studies. So the class was a “secret” class, and Professor Bruce Tyler taught Black History at University of Louisville, and he said that he had to teach it, since nobody else at the University wanted to. I guess folks would rather not tell the horrific treatment, the racial totalitarian dictatorship, Black folks have received throughout the vast majority of American history.

To break the spell of the disease of whiteness, white folks need to figure out, and talk about who they actually are. Where they came from, what's their genetic make-up, and if they don't know, then to figure out, how come ? For some reason, many of my German cousins dropped the rich, accomplished, smart German culture, in exchange for an inbred, redneck, racist, backwards, white supremacist culture of ignorance. It makes no sense to me. Germans have accomplished many great feats, in engineering, science, politics, architecture, and in many words we use, such as Hamburger, Frankfurter, and Fahrenheit. It doesn't make sense to me why anybody would drop the one rich culture for the culture that is completely void of meaning anything else, except white supremacy. My cousin, Robert Dearing, told me that he'd kill himself if he was Black, and at the same time, he couldn't see, that we both were sitting on the back of the mechanical tobacco setter, that we literally were the slaves. No wonder racism pervaded that culture. As long as the white child slaves felt like they were better than Black folks, then they wouldn't rebel. They were happy House Negroes, and why rebel, when the Massah treats us to very nice here... Prejudice is taught. Kids only hate naps, not other folks who look different than them. The norm is to be different.

By knowing how prevalent homophobia is in our culture, when a student tells another that they're “gay”, then something major will have to happen in order to combat the homophobia that may arise from such an incident. The playground taunt of being “gay” doesn't necessarily mean that the other person is being a homosexual, but that they are not cool, or are lame, or are not macho. So homophobia is so ingrained in our culture, that “gay” has been made to mean a blanket insult for any and all behavior the hater doesn't approve of. This isn't just one student saying it, but lots of students saying it, and it needs to be quashed.

The different between Mr. Anderson and Mr. Davis, is that Mr. Davis had a real education. In Mr. Davis's class, critical thinking was utilized, and relationships among the other students were linked together, through dialogue. Mr. Anderson's class wasn't real, and was destructive. It insulted the author as a young person, and it was teaching the white kids information that was not correct. “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is Mr. Anderson's idea of African culture. In the movie, a Coke bottle transforms the simple and primitive African culture into something more sophisticated. By not showing anything else about Africa, the impression is left that Africa has lots of primitive tribes there, but no civilizations, and cultures. Mr. Anderson forced them to read a lot of the textbook, so comprehension and memorization skills were utilized, but not critical analysis. Over 1/3 of college students are not learning critical thinking skills. This is because, in my many years of education, I've never been expected to analyze or interpret much of anything.

I would make sure that multicultural education was an approach I would do in my classroom. By combining as many sub-groups into my timeline of American history as possible (such as African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Irish-Americans, Queers, Jewish folks, Native Americans, etc.), to make sure that all the student's are represented, and to bring about a fuller, more comprehensive view of American history. I would also teach multicultural education by having a revolutionary humanist set-up, where democratic values are utilized, feedback and risk-taking (“Can I hear from somebody who hasn't spoken before?”) are encouraged, and dialogue, and relationships are valued. I would lecture some, but hopefully, I'd be able to get them to read, and study the material themselves, and pull the information out of them. I'd be a referee for dialogue, a chair for democracy, where we have a positive, encouraging environment, to read, to study, to engage, and to dialogue intelligently. By encouraging relationships, new friendships are created, such as having the cool kids work with the nerd kids, and to forge ahead with one of the few instances of when they will actually get to experience democracy in America. By having this education, they will be more aware of oppressive conditions, and if they are in doubt by being isolated, their friend's perspectives will help them to understand what they are looking at. A multicultural perspective is more truthful. A multicultural approach to education confronts racism, and white supremacy, and represents an anti-racist struggle, and had the young person understood what a real education looks like, where their dignity was respected, then they wouldn't accept a bigoted colonization of the classroom from any future educators.