Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finding the Light in their Eyes

Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk, in the previous post, reminded me of Sonia Nieto's introduction from her book "The light in their eyes: Creating multicultural learning communities."

She says:
In thinking about why learning needs to be more centrally connected with multicultural education, an image came to me: the light in students' eyes when they become excited about learning. There is nothing quite as dazzling as this sight. Once we have seen the look of discovery and learning in students' eyes, we can no longer maintain that some young people--because of their social class, race, ethnicity, gender, native language, or other difference--are simply unmotivated, ignorant, or undeserving. The light in their eyes is eloquent testimony to their capacity and hence their right to learn.
When we subject many populations of "at risk" students to skill and drill curricula, test prep, low-level thinking skills, and scripted curricula, we don't have a chance to see this light in students' eyes. We take this away from the very beginning. We fail them from the start. I have felt like I have to sneak in the activities that give students a chance to love learning. A creative curriculum often must be enacted behind the closed classroom door. It's assumed that it's not what struggling or "at-risk" students need.

I agree with SpEdChange's post about the current Obama reforms and Race to the Top:
The winners of the "innovation" grant program: Teach for America - which provides untrained teachers for America's most vulnerable minority students while pumping up the resumes of rich kids; KIPP Schools - today's recreation of the US "Indian School" program for the "retraining" of minority children; and Success for All - a scripted reading program devoted to teaching reading as a skill, not a life function; all have a few things in common, from campaign contributions to rich folks behind them, but especially, that they are all emblematic of the Obama Administration's belief "that African-American and Latino kids are ineducable."

If Obama thought differently he would not be pouring education funds into reductionist programs that no middle class or wealthy parent would accept for their child. If Obama thought differently he would be pouring funding into...dreaming about how to give all of our kids all that they need.
His request?
All of our children, even if they are poor, are black, are latino, are "disabled," even if they have "disinterested" or incompetent parents, deserve our very best. So please, let's stop "racing" - and let's stop dividing - and let's start creating opportunity.

College does NOT begin in Kindergarten

Thank you Ken Robinson.

He also says, "a three year old is not half a six-year-old. "Do we want our education system to be "fast food" or "customized dining?"

I came across this talk late. It's from May, but definitely worth watching if you haven't yet seen it.

He closes with this poem by William Butler Yeats:

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.