Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 62- Charleston

You can't pretend this doesn't fall directly into our sphere of influence and interest. There is zero deniability for any teacher when it comes to racial education. Ours is to confront ignorance. That's what teachers do. Any age, any grade, any subject. It’s possible. At the end of the day our job is bringing light to places darkened by ignorance. So to pretend that this isn't something that we should talk about is to increase, not decrease, ignorance.

Edchats happen weekly. That means they can be responsive, flexible communication vehicles. Something weekly is something that can be changed, that is adaptable, that should confront the issues of the world at that moment. Maybe not every time. Anyone looking at this page knows that I love to bring the ridiculous. There is no time when having a chat about narwhals is socially relevant (even though I'd argue that wasn't really a chat about narwhals, and the metaphor made it very socially relevant). Too many edchats pretend this isn’t the case, or pawn blame off on the teachers who voted for their topic. Who came up with the choices?

I hear teachers constantly rallying against standardized education. "Our students aren't standardized! We should treat them like people, not like robots/clones." But our chats? The "professional development" conversations we have amongst ourselves away from our schools and classrooms and students? By and large those don't treat teachers like people. They treat teachers like Teachers. Like the only things we have to worry about in our classrooms are how to get Kid A to read and how to teach fractions and what discipline plan is best and here's a quote from the book I wrote, respond to it, there's probably a right answer. Zero sense of the outside world. Zero connection to what's really happening.

I try to bring the world into #WeirdEd. It's not always easy. This week won't be easy.

These conversations shouldn't be easy.

Like always #WeirdEd isn’t about pointing fingers and picking fights. It is about finding connections and speaking honestly. The community built around this chat makes me trust we can have a conversation about the Confederate battle flag (take it down, it’s the heritage of hate and even South Carolina knows it) and nine dead black church-goers and the white supremacist the media won’t even call a terrorist who killed them and how the hell we are supposed to do anything about it as teachers. If we can’t have the conversation here, together, how can we ever express anything to our students? How can we fight the ignorance and hate that is in our house if we spend time in edchats ignoring it, too scared to speak?

Tonight we’re talking about Charleston. Like we talked about guns. Like we talked about Ferguson. We aren’t going to solve things, but we’re going to prove that the real world is important to teachers. We’re not going to block out the Hard in favor of the Safe.

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