Did you know animals and fantasy creature are featured more in children’s literature than non-white humans, combined? So, how does that fact affect all children? Last week, the third Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators ran at Northern Illinois University.
K-12 educators came to NIU campus for four days and three nights to explore social justice issues in education. Since its first year, the size of the camp has doubled from just under 60 campers to approximately 110 with demand for a fourth camp next year.
In addition to a spirited screening and discussion about Spike Lee’s masterpiece Do the Right Thing, sessions included some powerful topics: Understanding cultural competence; diversity in children’s literature; working effectively with LGBT youth; valuing all language varieties; challenging the model minority myth against Asian students; using cell phones to make short documentaries with students; culturally responsive methods for science and math; using hip hop to inform teaching practice -- yes, that is a thing and is actually very successful. Google “Chris Emdin hip hop science.”
This is what frustrates me. Why are we lampooned as snowflakes and warriors when our goal as teachers is to create environments where all our students feel respected and recognized, the fundamental ingredient for student success? We were not together to promote easing standards or lowering expectations. We didn’t talk about a socialist takeover of education. We did not sit around and bash white people or men or cisgender or wealthy folks. No, we explored research-based methods and approaches that help all students feel valued and honored in schools … all students. If that makes me a snowflake, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
I am Joe Flynn and that is my perspective.