Which Came First, Science or Critical Pedagogy?

Science Education in the Urban Classroom

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Zora in the Kindergarten Classroom

A page from Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

A page from Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

(I first wrote this post over a week ago, but just publishing it now.)

I bought Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston online for an amazing $4, a little over 6 months ago. It is a reproduction of her personal scrapbook and photos curated by her niece, Lucy Anne Hurston, presented almost in picture book form. I first saw it at some rare bookshop, selling for $80 or something like that, and my pockets weren’t having that even though my heart needed to be having it. So, alas, I found it for a whopping $4 plus $3.95 shipping. I’ve become quite skilled in the art of pinching rare books right before they skyrocket in price, so I suggest you purchase this book as soon as you’re done reading this fantastic post.

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale HurstonBy Lucy Anne Hurston and the Estate of Zora Neale HurstonPublished by DOUBLEDAY. 2004

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
By Lucy Anne Hurston and the Estate of Zora Neale Hurston
Published by DOUBLEDAY. 2004

I’m so attached to this renditioned scrapbook book of Zora’s life. It connects me to my great grandmother, whom I know only through her scrapbooks, in my possession. I’ve been wanting to make a remake of my grandmother’s scrap books, letters, and photographs for archival purposes. So when I came across Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston I knew I had to have it. Not only does Zora give me crafted memories of my great grandmother, but she also is a biographical figure I wanted to share with my Kindergarten students. I steep heavy in history in the K2 classroom. It’s the genre I’ve observed to be the most engaging to the students. They gravitate towards truth, perhaps from the deprivation of it in our mainstream cultures that engulf their precious lives.

Used with permission.

Used with permission.

I kept this book on a high shelf in the classroom, far enough away to keep safe from sticky crayon-holding hands, yet close enough to be in eye’s view as to contribute to the visual ambience of our classroom.

However, I have left the classroom this past week, for reasons that I won’t get into on a public blog post; but I will tell you this: I’ve quoted Zora at least three times over the past two weeks, when rationalizing my radical reasons for departing from my oppressive work environment. Even the title of her remade scrapbook, Speak, So You Can Speak Again, embodies all my reasons for demonstrating a moratorium from the classroom. And earlier this evening, while I was finishing cleaning out my belongings from the learning space, I saw this precious book. My heart sunk for a breve sec knowing that I never got to share it with my students. So, to suffice my softened heart, I blog about it now.

Here, I will share with you, in photos, why I associate Zora Neale Hurston with Gladys Golden Weaver.

Zora Neale Hurston.  From Lucy Ann Hurston's Speak, So you Can Speak Again. Page. 15

Zora Neale Hurston.
From Lucy Ann Hurston’s Speak, So you Can Speak Again. Page. 15

Open up the flap, and there is an excerpt from Hurston's work in The Crisis magazine, 1925.

Open up the flap, and there is an excerpt from Hurston’s work in The Crisis magazine, 1925.

"The journals published by African-American organizations were among the most important vehicles for communicating black thought, news, and culture...the NAACP published the most prestigious publication of the lot, The Crisis, Zora's work would appear." - Lucy Anne Hurston. Pg. 15

“The journals published by African-American organizations were among the most important vehicles for communicating black thought, news, and culture…the NAACP published the most prestigious publication of the lot, The Crisis, Zora’s work would appear.” – Lucy Anne Hurston. Pg. 15

My great grandmother, Gladys Golden Weaver, photographed in The Crisis, 1928.

My great grandmother, Gladys Golden Weaver, photographed in The Crisis, 1928.

 

Gladys Golden , top right. Taken from her photo scrap book. Not permitted for replication by any third parties.

Gladys Golden , top right and bottom right, with friends while traveling through D.C., to Baltimore. Taken from her photo scrap book. Not permitted for replication by any third parties.

Zora with friends from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Taken from Pg. 12 of Speak, So You Can Speak Again by Lucy Anne Hurston

Zora with friends from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Taken from Pg. 12 of Speak, So You Can Speak Again by Lucy Anne Hurston

Both Zora Neale Hurston and Gladys Golden Weaver were born in the 1890’s and raised in the south (Hurston Florida, Weaver Virginia), and both moved to New York for the Harlem Renaissance, but both not before spending time in D.C. and Maryland. Both also spent time living with other relatives during the first decade of the 20th century. “Zora spent the following years in the homes of first one sibling, then another…She was hungry for books to read, ideas to explore, and creative expression. She was young, female, and dependent, but failed to display the humility necessary to make those who provided for her feel that she was sufficiently grateful.” – Lucy Anne Hurston, Speak, So You Can Speak Again. Pg. 12. The above quote conveys the same character of Gladys’ letter to her mother, whom she wrote while residing with some relatives in Richmond, Virginia, 1907.

A letter, from Gladys Golden to her mother Mary Golden, written in 1907. (Not permitted to be duplicated by third parties or used in anyway without written consent from the owner.)

A letter, from Gladys Golden to her mother Mary Golden, written in 1907. (Not permitted to be duplicated by third parties or used in anyway without written consent from the owner.)

Zora's journal. Pg. 29 in Speak, So You Can Speak Again.

Zora’s journal.
Pg. 29 in Speak, So You Can Speak Again.

A page from Glady's journal, that she sealed in an envelope, and reopened 29 years later. (Not to be reproduced without permission.)

A page from Glady’s journal, that she sealed in an envelope, and reopened 29 years later. “Life in These United States./ I was a visitor in a friend’s home in Virginia. There are nine children of various complections, the father being “light” and the mother “brown”. Sitting on the porch one day I heard the following between an older sister giving a younger one an airing + a lady walking by. ‘My, what a pretty little girl. May I have her?’ asked lady. ‘Oh, no’, replied big sister, ‘She’s the only white child mama’s got.’. G.G.W/ The above is true. / (Mrs.) Gladys G. Weaver 534 W. 147 St. N.Y.C. “
(Not to be reproduced without permission.)

Envelope from the above journal entry.

Envelope from the above journal entry.

(Not to be reproduced without explicit permission from owner.)

Both the famous Zora and the personal Gladys taught me about American culture, politics, and history;  neither less of a historic-informative than the other. If you have the honor of teaching children, this year, guide them heavily in their learning of  history. Not just the published histories, but their familial histories as well.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

 

 

 

K2 Read Alouds: Week 6: Confrontation & Conflict Resolution

School week of: October 14 – October 18.

I introduce the concept of ‘Confrontation’ to Kindergarteners, lovingly and mindfully, with intention to: embrace truth, construct discourse, and build resiliency – in that order. The overall goal is to educate and empower my students.

(This is a late post. It’s been sitting in ‘Drafts’, due to minor edits being needed that I did not edit until now.)

Monday:

Nationally recognized holiday. No school. Ironically public libraries are closed this day also. No schools. No libraries. What does this American custom say about our values exactly?

Tuesday

I was going to read Encounter by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by David Shannon.

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Well-established children’s author, Jane Yolen, wrote outside her usual genres with the making of Encounter. It is meant to be historical fiction. It is meant to be told from the view point of a young Taino boy who is from the Taino tribe who were the first to suffer an encounter with spaniard, Christopher Columbus. When I first read this story, a couple years back, I fell in love with it. I actually recommended it in an earlier blog post, from a year ago.

However, as I’ve matured as an educator and picture book connoisseur, I’ve been inclined to doubt the book’s authenticity. My own inclinations turned out to be true – the book is not as authentic as it portrays to be.

I was puzzled that the author seemed to have absolutely no connection to the people whom she wrote about in Encounter. So I did what I do with all children’s books that are written about native peoples by non-native people – I researched their research. Usually, in the first few pages of a book, an author will include their resources, and tribal affiliated validators. I affirmed my suspicions thrice. Once, via this online article. Second, from author Jane Yolen’s actual bio regarding her reasons for writing Encounter; her reasons didn’t impress me. Then, there is this quite controversial youtube clip of it, in which the maker of the Youtube book trailer, states that the Taino people are extinct. Which is not true. All the comments are filled with people asking her to not ad-lib Jane Yolen’s words by stating that the Taino people are extinct. However, she keeps it up for the advertising benefit, which she states in one of the comments. I’m not adding the link here. That same video is actually recommended on author Jane Yolen’s website. Yeah, so no. I’m not reading it to my students. I’ll figure out another way to educate my students from a native perspective. I discovered a great blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, by University of Illinois professor of American Indian Studies, Debbie Reese. She even wrote a post that discredits Yolen’s Encounter, as an inaccurate account of the Taino.

Instead, I read Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. This classic is chalk full of teachable moments relating to conflict resolution.

Fox in Socks By Dr. Seuss

Fox in Socks
By Dr. Seuss

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From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

Wednesday and Thursday

Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. Illustrated by Michael Hays.

Abiyoyo  By Pete Seeger Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Abiyoyo
By Pete Seeger
Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Vocabulary: ‘ostracized’.   Class discussion: ‘How to believe in yourself and your community even when they don’t believe in you.’

Abiyoyo was also available in the Listening Center for students to enjoy on CD.

Friday

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch.

Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman Illustrated by Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace
By Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by Caroline Binch.
Published by Dial. 1991

"You can't be Peter - that's a boys name." But Grace kept her hand up. "You can't be Peter Pan,"  whispered Natalie. "He isn't black." But Grace kept her hand up.

“You can’t be Peter – that’s a boys name.” But Grace kept her hand up. “You can’t be Peter Pan,” whispered Natalie.
“He isn’t black.” But Grace kept her hand up.

I do have to ad lib here and there, in Amazing Grace, in order for it to be as loving and mindful a book as my students need it to be. Yet, there are many many children’s books that I ad lib, so this book is not unlike most in it’s need for adliberature. Usually, my ad libbing is centered around adjectives. There’s just never enough adjectives, or the right adjectives, in a story.

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

How manly is the picture book Everyone Poops?

Everyone Poops By Taro Gomi Published by Kane/Miller

Everyone Poops
By Taro Gomi
Published by Kane/Miller

Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi is manly enough for Duane de Four, an anti-sexist male activist who is a highly sought out public speaker –  nationally known and Boston-based. Duane de Four is also the founder of the humorous and thoughtful website Howmanly.com, a virtual space that views “Masculinity under the microscope”. I snagged a minute of his time for a quick but mindful interview to find out what his favorite picture book is. And this is the book he chose.

Everyone Poops was first published in Japan in 1977.

Howmanly.com launched in 2013.

Logo design by Katherine Monegro

Logo design by Katherine Monegro

Follow Duane de Four on Twitter: @TriniD4 and @HowManly 

 

Thanks for watching, and reading, The Picture Book Pusher.

Black History Taught in September & The 50th Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

As we embark on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  delivery of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and march again to Washington, on August 24th, 2013, I like to think my young students will be having discussions about these events in their homes, with their families, during these last weeks of summer before the school year.  Goodness knows they’ll be having them with me in the classroom, come September.

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  Schwartz & Wade 2012

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.
Schwartz & Wade 2012

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Larry Dane Brimner

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Published by Philomel 1994

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Published by Philomel 1994

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

I, Too, Am America By Langston Hughes Illustrated by Bryan Collier Simon & Schuster 2012

I, Too, Am America
By Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster 2012

Ellington Was Not A Street By Ntozake Shange Illustrated by Kadir Nelson Simon & Schuster 2004

Ellington Was Not A Street
By Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster 2004

The 50th anniversary of ‘I Have A Dream’ provides me with a perfect “excuse” to begin our American history lessons in September (through June), rather than the too-easily-embraced-custom of teaching it only from February 1st – 28th. Who can object to my lessons beginning in September? After all, I am a Dreamkeeper, and tomorrow’s march on Washington makes The Civil Rights Movement a current event.  The Civil Rights Movement is now.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series 2013

The Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series is an annual event held at Simmons College, organized by Professor Theresa Perry for Beacon Press Books.   The lecture series, held in the spring, brings distinguished movers and shakers in the field of education, to discuss their latest book, published through Beacon Press. I first attended the series back in ’07 while an undergraduate at Simmons College. Patricia Hill Collins and Imani Perry were the speakers. The event was life changing.

The Series proceeds on the assumption that public education is at the center of American public life and that discussions about critical educational issues need to occur in the public domain and engage Americans from many different backgrounds in thoughtful and complicated conversations.

– http://www.raceandeducation.com   Home page, paragraph 4

This year’s event brought us Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, discussing the themes: Standing Up For Justice/Creating Opportunity: From the Birmingham Children’s Crusade to Creating Excellence in Math, Science and Technology. 

Every year the event is sure to have prominent scholars, passionate educators, and Beacon Press Books for sale, specifically if not solely, books written by the speaker. However, this year’s lecture series had something extra special: PICTURE BOOKS!  We have Prof. Perry to thank for that.  Most of the picture books sold out. I was able to snag two.

 Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Published by Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2004

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison, uses photographs and text to tell its story. Morrison elicits mindfulness in the young reader, by writing through the voice of children and adolescents from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.  So important, and time saving is this book. As a teacher of young children, it takes much time to craft the right words to speak to children, regarding painful truths in our history. If I am not mindful in my word choice, then my truths may oppress, rather than empower, their young spirits.  I want to convey not only what happened, but also a perspective that can empower them and promote resilience. Morrison takes the guess-work out of choosing the right discourse.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2004 Pg. 28

“I don’t know. My buddies talked me into this. They said it would be fun. It’s not, but these guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they’re wrong. Aren’t they?”
Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. Pg. 28

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison. "I know the water I am drinking at  this fountain is the same as the water over there. The whites know it too. Seems foolish but it's not. It's important if you want to make a grown man feel small. It's extra work and costs more money to have two fountains when one will do, and to pretend water cares who's drinking it. But I guess some folks will do anything to make themselves feel big." pg. 52

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“I know the water I am drinking at this fountain is the same as the water over there. The whites know it too. Seems foolish but it’s not. It’s important if you want to make a grown man feel small. It’s extra work and costs more money to have two fountains when one will do, and to pretend water cares who’s drinking it. But I guess some folks will do anything to make themselves feel big.” Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison pg. 52

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. Published by Lee & Low Books, Inc. New York. 2006

John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. Published by Lee & Low Books, Inc. New York. 2006

This book is so important. Its a nonfiction tale with a message that,  ‘young people can be game changers too’. At least that’s the message that I took from the book. John Lewis began his life as an organizer at a young age.  The reader follows the life of John from his elementary years through adult hood.    The illustrations portray the simplicity of John Lewis’ home and school. In contrast the authors’ words portray the protagonist as a child with layers of cognitive substance. This mesh of simplicity and substance provides young readers the opportunity to conclude that great ideas and great people can come from limited means.

Aunt Seneva started to cry, and the children began to sob too. Then Aunt Seneva gathered her courage. “Everybody hold hands!” she called, and the frightened children did as they were told…The storm didn’t last long, but John never forgot that day. – Haskins and Benson pg. 3

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 4

Illustration by Benny Andrews for
John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 4

John realized that segregation was keeping his family from having a better life. This made him angry…One day when he was fifteen, John heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio…It was time to turn things upside down in order to set them right side up. – Haskins and Benson pg. 7

Illustration by Benny Andrews for  John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 8

Illustration by Benny Andrews for
John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 8

Inspired by Dr. King, John took his first steps to protest segregation. He asked for a library card at his county public library, knowing that black people were not allowed to have cards. John was not surprised that the librarian said the library was for whites only. then he went home and wrote the library a letter of protest. – Haskin and Benson pg. 10

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.  Pg. 9

Illustration by Benny Andrews for John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement.
Pg. 9

A time line, of John Lewis’ significant life events, is provided at the end of the book, along with photographs.  Every elementary classroom should have this book. You can order it through Lee & Low, here.

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While I have your attention, I’d like to share something Dr. Hrabowski and Dean of Students at Brookline Public Schools, Dr. Adrian Mims spoke on, at the lecture:  Doing math in numbers.   What’s that mean you ask? It means that if you are a teacher of students from diverse backgrounds, then be mindful of how you group your students. If students of color are the minority, then don’t just deploy them evenly into the rest of the groups, by default. Just because they are the minority within a peer group of students, doesn’t mean that their ideas have to be the minority within their work groups as well. Let them think together. Thinking together provides affirmation, respect, and a sustainable voice. Thus, when making math groups for students, make sure that students can work in numbers, not just as the sole minority within the group.  Dr. Mims actually wrote on the benefits of grouping students together in his dissertation,  “Improving African American Achievement in Geometry Honors”.

Overall this year’s lecture gave me lots to think about. Lots to live for.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

p.s. during the question and answer period, someone asked Dr. Hrabowski what his favorite picture book was (it wasn’t me, really!). His answer: The Velveteen Rabbit. He said that the book’s message is deep and profound.