On a rainy day in the midst of exhausting sexual harrassment news, we needed a song with some ethical fire. The song What About Us?, by Pink, has been all over the radio, but we hadn’t listened carefully to the words ’til Pink was on NPR, having a frank conversation with Michel Martin about the state of US politics. What About Us? is all about the past year.
We are hard at work on the next installment of our series, Small Stones Interviews. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not still treating ourselves to some reading worth sharing. (With iced coffee. Hiding in the coolest part of the house. If you aren’t doing the same, thank your lucky stars for either air conditioning or geography, and send cooling thoughts to the western half of the country.)
Our next interview will feature a violence-preventionist who works in social-emotional learning–SEL, for those in the know. We’re doing our homework, and we recommend this recent piece from NPR Ed, “When Schools Meet Trauma With Understanding, Not Discipline:”
“Generally there just was really not an understanding of how trauma impacts a child,” says Paulette Carter, president and CEO of the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, a mental health agency for kids and families.
“Teachers and school staff really look at children through the lens of, ‘What’s wrong with that child?’ Versus, ‘What happened to that child?’ ”
“If I’m walking down the hallway and somebody bumps into me, and I don’t have a significant trauma history, I’m gonna say ‘Oh, sorry, excuse me,’ ” she explains. “Whereas a kid who’s been exposed to trauma on an ongoing basis, if somebody bumps into them that might be a threat.” From there, she says, the survival brain kicks in and reasoning and logic shut down.
Crocker has developed ways to help students who are dealing with those experiences. Two full-time social workers hold one-on-one sessions with students who need someone to talk to. Teachers send disruptive students to a room called the wellness center for a meditative time-out that’s not supposed to be punishment.
If students fight, they first work it out through group discussion. Kids who act up or shut down get extra support, not detention or suspension like they used to. The idea is to tend to life troubles at school, instead of sending kids home.
Go check out the whole thing and report back next week for more on SEL.
Courtesy of NPR, an excellent article on the newest visitors to refugee children: the Sesame Street Muppets.
We are fascinated by the research process that Sesame Workshop is up to here.
In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, Sesame producers and early-childhood experts are soliciting guidance and feedback from relief organizations, trauma experts, academics and others who have worked with refugees. They’ll also be making research visits to refugee camps in Jordan.
According to the IRC, of the 65 million people displaced from their homes worldwide, more than half are children.
As American readers, steeped in multiculturalism (not to mention as Bay Area readers, used to a high level of diversity), what stood out the most to us, though, was what children might not be taught.
Cairo Arafat, who oversees production of the Arabic language Sesame Street from Abu Dhabi, urged her colleagues not to make assumptions that refugees will share their values such as inclusivity.
“In many of these populations,” she said, “children are still taught, ‘No. Be wary of the people who don’t talk like you, don’t look like you or come from a different sect.’ ” With the special conditions facing refugees — including security issues — Arafat advised careful thinking about what they would like to teach.
Bear with us–the news is moving fast, and we’re working hard! Check back in soon for posts re. immigration, students’ rights, and Black History Month. In the meantime, here’s some of what we’ve encountered this week.
From the Zinn Education Project, an article in advance of Presidents’ Day. Dr. Clarence Lusane’s post would fit well in a discussion of what is included (or not) when history is written.
One of the presidential slaves was Ona “Oney” Maria Judge. In March 1796 (the year before Washington’s second term in office ended), Oney was told that she would be given to Martha Washington’s granddaughter as a wedding present. Oney carefully planned her escape and slipped out of the Washingtons’ home in Philadelphia while the Washingtons were eating dinner. Oney Judge fled the most powerful man in the United States, defied his attempts to trick her back into slavery, and lived out a better life. After her successful attempt became widely known, she was a celebrity of sorts. Her escape from the Washingtons fascinated journalists, writers, and others, but more important, it was an inspiration to the abolition movement and other African Americans who were being enslaved by whites.
Lida Dianti’s 2016 piece on Black History Month in the Daily Trojan is worth a look if you missed it last year. Dianti makes the case for Black History Month in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In honor of BHM — and seeing that Black History is not taught from a black perspective but a predominantly white one — it is more than appropriate to use the history itself to explain how the past defines the racial injustices of today. There are two fundamental works conveniently left out of all levels of education: Slavery by Another Name and The New Jim Crow — the first, a documentation of the advent of industrial slavery in post-Civil War America and its criminalization of black people into second-class citizenry. At this time, the convict lease system relegated black Americans into forced laborers, imprisoned by the U.S. justice system as encouraged by states, local government, white farmers and corporations until World War II. The latter work traces the narrative of segregation and so-called integration well after the Civil Rights Movement, as seen with the mass incarceration of black Americans as a result of the disproportionate and skewed policing of the war on drugs. Since the 1980s, black Americans have been segregated through legalized discrimination and unfair prison sentences, which resulted in the inability to integrate in society after incarceration.
NPR Books reviews two YA novels that focus on immigration, Melissa de la Cruz’s Something in Between and Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us. Both have been added to our reading list.
De la Cruz’s protagonist, Jasmine, is devastated when learns that she and her family are living in the U.S. illegally: “I’m breaking apart, shattering,” she thinks to herself. “Who am I? Where do I belong? I’m not American. I’m not a legal resident. I don’t even have a Green Card. I’m nothing. Nobody. Illegal.”
The truth comes out after Jasmine, a classic overachiever, wins a prestigious scholarship. Like a lot of immigrant kids, de la Cruz says, Jasmine works hard to prove she can succeed in this country. “I wanted to, you know, put this all-American girl who happened to be Filipino … through the ringer. Like, what if you’re head cheerleader, class president, valedictorian — but then, all of a sudden, you’re not that special anymore because of how you came to this country?”
Magda Pescayne may be familiar to you as the woman behind Ask Moxie. These days she’s starting a column on parenting under Trump. Her emphasis on routine and predictability, to the extent that it’s possible, can also apply to the classroom.
Kids need routine and stability. You need routine and stability. In the middle of the world falling down around us, the only one who can provide routine and stability for you and your children is you.
You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together logistically, if things get any worse (and that may be true). You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together emotionally for much longer (or that you aren’t currently keeping it together emotionally). But you have to stick to routines, for your kids and for yourself.
Finally, at Teaching for Change, a little more information on protest for those of us new to it from someone who’s been at it a long time. Bruce Hartford was a civil rights worker for Dr. King in the 1960s, and he has a couple of techniques he’d like to revive.
I’ve recently participated in several protests aimed at building resistance to Trump and Trumpism. But from what I could see, there appeared to be little conscious effort to use those demonstrations as organizing tools in effective ways that were second nature to us back in the bad old days. So I would like to suggest two techniques that I think would be effective today…
Rest up, take care, and let us know what you’d like to see.