Today was an amazing day. I am feeling a sense of hope and joy that I haven’t felt for a very long time. My goal is to help change the world and I honestly think I may have just been positioned to be a part of a change that will have a huge impact. I will go more into depth with that at the end of this blog. First, let’s talk about how EdCampRevolution rocked my world!
I have been looking forward to this EdCamp for months. The reason why is that their mission aligns with mine. It is one that more conferences need to address.
We at EdCamp Revolution are holding this space for critical educators and progressive educators to come together, share ideas, and feel empowered to affect change in their place of work and communities. How do we discuss STEM, maker-spaces, the arts, health and physical education, within the context of race, class, gender, equity, justice, and liberation?
Here is a group of educators that is challenging the status quo in a way that I can fall in line with. After going to the conference I fell in love with them.
The first session titled, Critical Pedagogy, was facilitated by Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price (@Okaikor). For those who do not know her Okaikor is a doctoral student who is very knowledgeable about critical pedagogy as well as other social justice principles. One definition of critical pedagogy I found states, “Critical pedagogy is a teaching method that aims to help in challenging and actively struggling against any form of social oppression and the related customs and beliefs.” (Link)
She did one of the best jobs in facilitating a conversation. It was interesting because she was one of the quieter people in the room when it was obvious that she had a wealth of information. That is is the true spirit of EdCamps. The room discussed the subject and Okaikor jumped in once in awhile with her substantial wealth of information. If you want to see the notes on the session click here. The major takeaway from the session is that I have to read Paulo Freire and learn more about how my students, as well as myself, can question and challenge my system and my class. The action is the key to critical pedagogy.
The second session I went to was facilitated Diana Potts, Stephanie Rivera, and Elissa Malespina. The subject was how to bring up race in your classroom. The session was awesome!! There was fire and a little edge in the room. This made the discussion come alive! My man TJ was dropping knowledge bombs on my right while Julie-Ann, the founder of EdCampBrooklyn, and I were whispering in agreement to each other on the left. There was a student in the session who gave a wonderful synopsis of why it’s important for teachers to step up their views on race and how pictures are sometimes more powerful than words.
My major takeaway from the session is that I need to continue to learn more about history. Black history, Mexican history, African history, US history so that I can fully understand how the world has gotten to this point. Without that knowledge, I am blinded to certain truths.
Now to the groans and glows of the conference! (thank Jorge for allowing me to steal the idea)
Glow: The session board was filled with great subjects! This was not a conference for those scared to discuss the hard topics.
Groan: There were two people who took a lot of the time to talk about what they were doing. Today race was discussed a lot so that may be why but I noticed both people were white. I don’t know if they had anything to do with the fact that they talked for what seemed like at least ten minutes. It is not fair to monopolize so much time when the whole room should be a part of the discussion. Time just doesn’t allow for that as well as for the fact that people don’t pay attention for that long!
Glow: There were more black and brown people there than any other education conference I have ever been to. That was an awesome site to see!
Glow: There was a boat load of food!
Glow: Lunch was short and to the point.
Groan: My kids were sick so I got there late and had to leave early.
Going back to the beginning of the blog I stated how happy I was that a major change may be occurring in NJ, NY, and CT! I had a conversation where I was asked why EdCampNJ wasn’t doing enough to support other EdCamps. It made me realize that we were in a unique position and time to unite all the local EdCamps in NJ, NY, and CT which will solve a couple of issues that have been plaguing them.
The first issue is that EdCampNJ is attended by a large number of white educators. We see this and now have a viable solution. When we unite we will have the voices of teachers of color as well as white teachers.
Another issue is that the EdCamps are all planning on their own independent of one another. This has caused EdCamps to be held on the same day. That doesn’t do anyone any good. Together we can map out a calendar and figure out the best way to spread out the EdCamps.
The final way this new coalition will help is that we can amplify everyone’s EdCamp! We are not in competition with each other. We all have the same goal of bettering our profession. The joining of EdCamp voices will allow everyone to shine brighter!
Today was a day filled with great conversations and hope. That alone was worth going to EdCampRevolution!
Thanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading it, tho I think I may have been part of one of your “groans.” We’re all working to make critical growth, so all is good. I’m especially excited to read you’ll be reading Freire’s work. It’s definitely a transformative text.
Based on what you shared, I thought you might like a few sources that can help continue your work inside and outside the classroom.
Here’s the activity I mentioned that teachers in bodies which look “white” can use with students to introduce the concept of race: https://zinnedproject.org/materials/reconstructing-race/.
Another is a short article by James Baldwin titled “On Being White…And Other Lies.” It was published in Essence in 1984 and has been pretty influential in scholarship on the histories of race, labor, immigration, and African Americans. Here’s a link to it: http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/Family_Herstories/2_On_Being_White.PDF.
Last is a text by historian David Roediger titled The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (2007 ). When I was first learning how to understand whiteness, this was one of the texts that was recommended to me. The rest of Roediger’s work is, in my eyes, incredibly important too as it builds on Wages of Whiteness and is also, in itself, profoundly transformative in ways that are similar to Freire’s work. Here’s a link: https://caringlabor.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/roediger-the-wages-of-whiteness-race-and-the-making-of-the-american-working-class.pdf.
I wish we could have gotten to talk after the last session. Who knows, maybe at the next EdCamp or on your blog or social media till then.
Thanks for commenting! Will heck out the sources. Appreciate your time reading it. As far as the groan don’t know if it was you or not but being aware of the time and the group is always beneficial. That also comers from attending a boatload of edcamps! Let’s talk! Hit me up on twitter or voxer.
Nice and my pleasure. Certainly not “me” in anyway that presumes something “natural” about sharing a point. Hopefully as we all rise in love together that will work to increase on concentration of what each of us shares and our sensitivity to others and our own selves–time included during a discussion–will rise as well. I wish we had stuck around to hear from more folks, too. Maybe next time. Curious, what were your thoughts about the length with which other folks spoke? I wonder if this way of thinking about a discussion that is practiced democratically gets to the point of a science, i.e. that is a specified amount of time for each person relative to the quality and quantity of oppression, exploitation, and violence a person experienced both currently and in relation to the past histories of dehumanization. I tend to not think so, but it does start to get at a point about dialogical reparations. That’s new to me as I am reflecting and sharing now in writing. Certainly would love to hear your thoughts.
Wow your reply was well above my scope
Of understanding! I would say most people were cognizant of keeping their responses to a reasonable time simply because of the time. The problem lies in the fact that just because the time was up did we have to stop! Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of authentic conversation? In a perfect world we would have said leave if you want or stay and finish the dialogue. Let’s connect on twitter or voxer so I can learn more from you.