Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to re-envision a student or child as a "lesson in freedom" rather than a distraction or disruption.
Directions: In Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School, Carla Shalaby turns observations of “trouble-makers” around and examines what educators can learn from student disruptions. The author highlights how interruptions, misbehaviors, and distractions can tell a story about how our schools and classrooms are not serving the needs of every child. During this assignment you will take one “trouble-making” student or child from your experience who could serve as a case-study or lesson of freedom. You will first describe the child’s behavior, the setting of the situation and 1-2 memorable experiences that exemplify the child/youth as a particular case. Then, as inspired by Shalaby’s work, you will present an alternative explanation of the lesson that you may have learn from this child. This requires putting oneself in the child’s or adolescent’s shoes and thinking about why they might have responded in this way. Finally, at the end of this piece, please describe at least two ways you could have handled the situation or interacted with the child or youth in a more positive or democratic way. This assignment should be approximately 2 pages in length and should incorporate citations from at least two readings.
Quote to inspire your reflection: Use this assignment to do as Shalaby suggests: "I want us to imagine their behaviors – which are admittedly disruptive, hypervisible, and problematic – as both the loud sound of their suffering and a signal cry to the rest of us that there is a person in our shared air. That is, when a child is singing loudly – and sometimes more and more loudly, despite our requests for silence – we might hear that song as a signal that someone is refusing to hear her voice." (p. XXI).
Please use APA Format
Background of the Case:
It was fall 2000, and I was completing my student-teaching internship in a school on the border of Georgia and South Carolina. I had been teaching tenth-grade American History for two months. I struggled with classroom management the entire semester, mostly because I was a new teacher. It had also been suggested that because my CT was the football coach, with a really intimidating physical stature, the administration had filled his classes with the students they considered the “most difficult” in the school.
My Cooperating Teacher (CT) was a very nice man and never critiqued what I taught; however, he never really gave me feedback either. In fact, he would always leave the room when I was teaching. Before my arrival at the school, my CT allowed the students to choose their own seats. Mid-way through the semester, I had an entirely segregated classroom; the white students would sit on one side of the room, and the African American students would sit on the other side.
Similar to many of the new social studies teachers I observe now, I often relied on class lectures, fearing that I would not sufficiently cover the material if I tried to implement different types of activities into my instruction. The school operated on a block schedule, and some days students took notes for almost one hour. Students would start out taking notes and quietly listening to my lecture, but midway through they would start talking to their friends. The chatter would begin to get louder and louder. My idea on how to handle this "misbehavior"…stop talking and wait until the students settled down.
On one particular day, the class took a little longer to quiet down. A student on one side of the room told the group on the other side to shut up so we could continue the class. Someone in the second group yelled, “Who are you telling to shut up!” Then the first student replied, “You all that are talking.” Which inspired the second half of the room to start responding all at once. It reminded me of a ping-pong match where complaints and insults were volleyed back-and-forth. It had escalated quickly, and I had no idea which student was making which comment. Finally, a white student, Todd, stood up and said, “If you don’t stop talking, I’ll come over there and make you boy.” Even at the time, I understood the racial implications when a white person in the south referred to an African American as “boy”; he was using racist language and threatening his classmate. Yet before I could intervene, another student, an African American male whom I’ll call Jordon, stood up and yelled, “I know your ass is not talking to me.” When I was finally able to calm the class down, I referred Todd and Jordon to the disciplinary administrator.
Two weeks later, after we had all forgotten about the incidence, someone called over the intercom requesting that we send Todd to the principal's office. Twenty minutes later there was a request for Jordon to visit the office as well. I am in the middle of lecturing about the Civil War when Jordon burst through my classroom door walks over to a desk and throws it across the room. It did not come close to me or any other students, but I remember how scared I was. One of his friends asked him what was wrong and he said, “Because of this white bitch I now have to go to in-school detention.” His friends continued to try to calm him down. I walk to the class next door to get help from a male teacher. I was shaking and I broke down in tears. Jordon was escorted out of the class and has to report to the in-school suspension room for the remaining 10 days I have left at the school.
The assistant principal reached out to me a few days after the incidence to check in on what took place. He told me that Jordon’s grandmother had come to the school to talk about what happened. They both wanted to apologize to me, but it was up to me if I wanted to meet with him. I declined the offer and I have regretted that decision for 17 years.
Alternative Explanation/Alternative Solution
As I read Cara Shalaby’s (2017) Troublemakers, I could not help but think about Jordon and how I was not listening to messages that he and his peers were giving while acting out in class. For example, rather than allowing students to have a voice in my classroom by implementing student-centered activities, I forced them to listen to my lecture while taking notes passively. The following quote reminded me of what I did wrong:
I want us to imagine their behaviors – which are admittedly disruptive, hypervisible, and problematic – as both the loud sound of their suffering and a signal cry to the rest of us that there is a person in our shared air. That is, when a child is singing loudly – and sometimes more and more loudly, despite our requests for silence – we might hear that song as a signal that someone is refusing to hear her voice. (Shalaby, 2017, p. XXI).
I now view the students’ disruptions during my lecture as signals that they are refusing to be passive in their learning and that they crave engagement and agency. I take the onus of the fact that my poor instructional decisions may have fueled their frustrations and realize that I should have included small group discussions or hands-on activities in our class sessions.
As I encountered the readings in this module, I also think about the racism the permeated (and still permeates) the classroom, the school, and the community where I was teaching. The physical set-up of a segregated classroom provided a visible reminder of the racial tensions. Todd’s reference to Jordon as “boy” is a great example of the difference between Gee’s notions of discourse and Discourse. As Powell (2008) describes, “Gee differentiates between ‘discourse’ – a particular linguist form – and “Discourse” – a way of speaking, behaving, and valuing that signals membership in a particular community. (p. 7). The “Discourse” surrounding the use of the term “boy” connotes a history of white supremacy and segregation. As I reflect back on what I should have done, I wonder how the class and students would have functioned if we specifically developed a literacy of practice in the classroom. What if we implemented classroom activities to help students learn about each other and develop respect for their peers? What if we had students critique historical accounts, excerpts of non-fiction, etc. as a way to understand how their “Discourses” have been shaped by racism or misunderstandings of others?
Finally, as I think back about this case, I feel like I failed Jordon. Shalaby (2017) observes that “as a noun, troublemaker is a kind of person – an identity encoded in and imprinted on individual bodies. It locates the problem of noncompliance in people, fogging our view of the social and cultural production of trouble (p. 151). By referring him to administration at the same time I referred Todd, I sent the message that a curse word is an equal infraction as a racist threat. Instead of listening to why Jordon was frustrated, I took his reaction personally. By refusing to meet with him, I sent a message that the door to communication was closed; that I gave up on him. Reflecting back, I realize that I also shut down communication with Jordon’s grandmother who also reached out to talk. In my mind, Jordon became a trouble-maker and not a real person. This experience reminds me that instead, I need to create an alternative image of all my students and honor their humanness. As Shalaby advises educators, we should look at trouble-making as a verb. This would help me redirect myself “away from ‘fixing’ people whom we assume to be broken and instead toward addressing the harms that seek to break them” (Shalaby, 2017, p. 154).
Joe L. Kincheloe, kecia hayes, Karel Rose, and Philip M. Anderson
One of the most compelling concerns of decades, educational researchers have our era is the question of what to do about been collecting data confirming the defi the neglect of our urban schools. Thirty- cits of urban youth while sensationalized one percent of U.S. elementary and sec- media produce images of urban youth ondary students go to school in 226 large running wild and out of control. In this urban districts. There are nearly 16,000 context, many urban school leaders school districts in the United States and attempt to hide the problems undermin almost one-third of all students attend 1.5 ing education at their particular schools percent of them (Fuhrman, 2002). In the (NWREL, 1999; Ciani, 2002; Kozleski, urban context one finds "the emergent 2002). The problems-the crises-besiege U.S. culture." The ways in which urban many of us who work in urban systems. educators shape urban pedagogy in. the , We have come to realize that without sig-! coming years is central to the way people I nificant structural changes, even increased in this country reinvent the nation (Ander- l funding will merely prop up pathological son and Summerfield, 2004). With this in systems and provide little help for stu mind the United States faces an uncertain , dents and teachers. future, because in the schools in these 226 In the eye of the perpetual crisis, teachers urban districts, observers encounter a keep on teaching and many students keep wide diversity of problems and successes. on learning. Indeed, there are urban teachers
Urban education is always in crisis- who perform good work in a context in yesterday, today, and certainly in the near which impediments are many and resources future. Teacher shortages force many are few. Even if resources were provided urban school administrators to scramble and equal funding of urban school systems madly during the first weeks of school to were mandated, there would still be inade- . fill classroom vacancies. Inadequate funds quate monies. Poor urban schools are so in cause cutbacks in essential services in the · need of financial help that equal funding middle of the school year. In con tempo- 1 ~ )would have to be supplemented by addi-
1 rary U.S. society the use of the term
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I "urban" has become in many quarters a where they might be able to visualize the I signifier for poverty, nonwhite violence, . equality of resources on the distant horizon. , narcotics, bad neighborhoods, an absence 1 Reform efforts proliferate in this context.
of family values, crumbling housing, and Overwhelmed by these disparities and the failing schools. Over the past several crisis atmosphere surrounding them, urban
policy makers have sought to replace huge, bureaucratic systems overseen by boards of education with new smaller, locally oper ated organizations.
There is nothing simple about urban edu cation. Urban Education: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators, Parents, and Teachers highlights the interaction between the chal lenges and opportunities found within the diverse educational spaces of our urban contexts. Throughout the handbook this dialectic will assert itself in every topic addressed. Indeed, the central watchword of this work is complexity. Just when we think that we've made a definitive state ment about the uniqueness of the category, up pops a contradiction that subverts our confident pronouncement. What passes as urban education involves a wide range of circumstances (Willard-Holt, 2000). Keep ing in mind the complexity and contradic tions of urban education, the handbook asks whether there are unique features of urban education. After careful study of the question we believe that the following char acteristics apply:
• Schools operate in areas with high population density.
• Schools are bigger and school districts serve more students.
• Schools function in areas marked by profound economic disparity.
111 Urban areas and urban schools have a higher rate of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity.
s Urban schools experience factionalized infighting on school boards over issues concerning resources and influence.
(;'I ~rban ~chool .systems are undermined by meffechve busmess operations.
0 Poor urban students are more likely to experience health problems.
0 Urban schools experience higher student, teacher, and administrator mobility.~
0 Urban schools serve higher immigrant populations.
@ Urban schools are characterized by linguistic diversity.
6 Urban schools experience unique transpor- tation problems. · .
0 Teachers working in poor urban schools are less likely to live in the communities neighboring the schools than are teachers in suburban and rural systems.
With these rationales in mind, the edi tors and authors of Urban Education have created a diverse body of work that speaks directly to the needs of urban educators and the teacher-educators who teach them. Although attempting to develop a vision of what urban educa tion can become, we are profoundly con cerned with providing material that urban educators can use in their profes sional lives. We have organized this book into thematic sections. In the section on Context, we highlight the need for a rigorous, inter-/multidisciplinary under standing of urban education that draws on several disciplines and transdisci plines, including history, cognitive studies, sociology, anthropology, cultural stud ies, philosophy, political science, eco nomics, and geography to help teachers and educators understand the complex space in which urban education takes place. In this way teachers and educa tors gain unique and powerful insights into research on educational policy, ped agogy, and the lives of children living in densely populated urban settings. Understanding the effects of such forces, however, must not lapse into a deter ministic view of how such contextual forces inexorably shape the schooling pro cess and student performance. Understand ing the imr,act of political and economic factors and the cultural mismatches between home and school culture does not mean stu dents, teachers, and parents cannot over come these contextual impediments.
The sections on Race and Ethnicity, Power, and Language address the many ways m which the different social construc tions of culture, and the demonstrations of those social constructions, reflect hierarchi cal power distinctions and privileges that shape an individual's position within the
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society. "In an ideal world, every child born world from the late fifteenth century until would have the same opportunity to realize the twentieth century, when it mutated his or her potential. In the real world, this is into a neocolonialism grounded on eco not the case. Socially constructed differ- nomic and cultural dynamics led prima ences in race, class, and gender tum out to rily by the United States. The knowledges be very costly for some and very profitable of teacher education coming from both for others …. They impact directly on the colleges of education and colleges of lib life chances of everyone, 'and they reflect era! arts and sciences are too often based and perpetuate the cycle of racism, sexism, on an acceptance of the status quo in and class inequality that constitutes both urban education. When teacher education their cause and their effect" (Rothenberg in and schools fall into this monological trap, Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, p. they are telling urban students from 188). As the primary social institution diverse backgrounds that their knowl responsible for the socialization of youth edges, values, and ways of living are not into the society, schools rest at the dynamic important. Schools are here to provide intersection of race, ethnicity, class, and them with the correct ways of being-the gender. Essentially, schools become the proper ways of seeing that come from the sites where, on one end of the spectrum, we / dominant· white upper-middle-class cul /reproduce the hegemonic tendencies inher- ture. Such insights force us to rethink
nt in our socially constructed notions of' knowledge production, curriculum devel ace, etlmicity, class, and gender. On the , opment, and the core of urban educational
other end of the spectrum, we engage in [ : practice. In this context we begin to seej
, cts of criticality to challenge and recon-)f · urban education not as a means of socially ! struct these conceptualizations to create[, controlling the poor and nonwhite but as a i
. new relations of power within the web of! means of liberating and cultivating the I I reality. In these sections, we are especially intellect while providing t~r .1
interested in the impact of the current . socioeconom_ ic mobility. <a~ritical urb~ po':er blocs on children and adults and · p~~lldi:s t~_e cont~n their efforts to enter mto the processes of for the .P_':'_i:j,W,;1;c'yL ~i1-ianc'!lg __ 1i1:1_i:i:i.'m teaching and learning. Contributors also ag~ncy:=llleEa1'~~i,tYcJ9cA<=tin_tI"_a~~~o_rma study the means by which the intersections tive ways-not to rntnimize it. . of race, ethnicity, class, and gender within The · focus· of the section on Tfachl_ng school systems (i.e., public schools, inde- .and Pedagogy is on the many different pendent schools, and alternative schools ways i:n..;,hidrteaci1~rs_·:;,xpeffence the including charter schools) can be cha!- urban classroom. Too often these teachers lenged and altered to provide a more egal- leave the profession without ever learning itarianexperienceofeducationforchildren diver~e ways of working with and moti and adults. vating urban students. As we know, many
In the se5'tiC>11 <>~nstice>, we cha!- . times these young urban teachers come. lenge teachers and educational leaders to from socioeconomic locales very different · confront their relationship with some 'than those of their lower socioeconomic long-term historical trends rarely dis- 1 class students. These are the teachers who cussed in the contemporary public conver- · are sometimes the most vulnerable to the! sation and in urban teacher education. social representations of urban poverty i Indeed, everyone in the contemporary and poor urban students. Living lives so/ United States is shaped by this knowledge culturally distant from their students, in some way, whether they are conscious these teachers and teacher-education stu of it or not. We cannot erase the fact that dents need to understand both the com European colonialism dominated the munities in which poor urban students
live and the nature of their daily lives. They need to have field experiences dur ing their teacher education in urban schools so they won't experience culture shock when they assume teaching posi tions. These are also teachers and teacher education students who-moving to the other end of the spectrum-sometimes develop an unhealthy desire to "save" or "rescue" poor Latino/-a or African-Amer i¢n students. In this mode such teachers tee the cultural capital of white middle- ✓c1ass lifestyles as the antidote to "urban
ness." These rescuers are missionaries who bring salvatiop—thrpugh "proper ways of being." . . ',
In the section on Re~earc'.(, our goal is to highlight the scholarly Work that grants insight into working in the everyday world of urban schools and other educa tional locales. Producing literature and research on urban education in the con temporary sociopolitical climate is diffi cult in that it must address the dominant representations of the urban poor and poor urban students as "the undeserving poor" rather than the "underserved poor." In the contemporary climate of the No Child Left Behind act, the methodological influence on educational research has been one of socially decontextualized cause effect and. of a hypothetical-deductive sys tem of reasoning. Our goal is to push the margins of this constrictive mode of research conceptualization such that we can begin to understand all of the nuances of a child's experiences in the urban class room. This means that we must embrace notions of the teacher-researcher and the student-researcher in order to generate research that is representative and truly informative.
Authors who contributed to the section on Afsthetics understand that the urban envi ro~eilt provides a remarkable opportu nity for the educator to explore philosophic, pedagogic, and aesthetic principles. Our cit ies are characterized by people of increasing diversity, and educators as social architects
can help make it possible for urban areas to become rich, caring, beautiful places to work and live. We recognize that young peo ple within these urban centers have been significantly affected by such forces and
. often find no sanctioned spaces in which to voice reactions to the ways they experience urban life. Consequently, urban youth have constructed aesthetic forms within youth culture that facilitate expression of their lived experiences. However, there is a dis connection between the expression con structed by youth and the expression valued and legitimated by schools. In the Aesthetics section, we explore how students and teach ers can feel greater empowerment in the urban environment through an appreciation of its rich aesthetic opportunities for learn ing. The aesthetic experience, whether it happens on the streets, in the schools, or in the cultural institutions of the city, can help learners of all ages recognize that cities have long been the centers of world culture.
In the section on Policy, we acknowl edge that the current framework of our educational system reinforces the idea that because of asymmetrical representation, urban educational policy rarely reflects the interests and needs of its clients. Politi cians are becoming more unilaterally responsible for schooling that changes the nature, rather than the reality, of the politi cization of schools. With such unilateral ism, those who are routinely engaged with the experiences of schooling do not have any control over their experiences. Educa tional bureaucracies have historically operated to diminish tfie self-direction of participants in the system. Authors writ ing in this domain assess the extent to which the constituent groups of students, parents, and educators gain and lose power within new, but not necessarily dif ferent, political dynamics. We also explore the extent to which urban educators can cre ate a politically restructured system in which all clients, especially new social actors seeking access to the discourse, can partici pate. Such actions position participants in
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ways that release them from the control of the bureaucracies that shape the policy frameworks of schooling and the dis-_ courses of reform according to their own limited understandings and interests.
Susan Fuhrman (2002) argues that in the contemporary era there are endless attempts at urban sthool reform with little improvement to show for the efforts. She is correct, and one of the most important reasons for these failures at reform involves the lack of a sense of educational purpose. Without this key ingredient most
educational reforms amount to little more than taking an aspirin to ease the pain of a kidney stone. The urban education pro moted herein demands a fundamental rethinking, a deep reconceptualizatiori,of what human beings are capable of achieving-the role of the social, cultural, and political in shaping human identity, the relationship between community and schooling, and ways that power operates to create purposes for schooling that are not necessarily in the best interests of the children who attend them.
Introduction: The Power of Hope in the Trenches
Joe L. Kincheloe, kecia hayes, Karel Rose, and Philip M. Anderson
Karel Rose writes: The first day of school in September is the
best time to be driving through Brooklyn. Fathers, mothers and grandparents clutch the hands of their young treasures as they walk them to what each child hopes will be the best day of his or her life. All parents send to school the best they have and most share their children's great expectations. In an urban area, children of all races and eth nicities proudly stride toward the school house: their braided pigtails with colorful ribbons, their shiny backpacks, and their bright socks, a testimony to their optimism. Sometimes, their dreams are realized; too often, urban schools fail these children and their teachers.
The New Yorker March 7, 2005, cover: A naked and frightened Adam and Eve are running across the Brooklyn Bridge fleeing New York Gty. We see the pointed finger of God throwing them out of New York City, the unaffordable Eden. Where will they go? Many of our cities have become increas ingly unaffordable-hospitable only to those with power and means. As a result, any urban schools bedeviled by bureaucratic demands too often replicate this dismissal of poor populations. Despite high-sounding rhetoric and claims of higher test scores, the
disregard for public schooling in many urban areas is apparent. Although there is real reason for gloom, the contributors to this handbook speak eloquently and hold out enormous hope that community work ers, parents, artists, and educators are find ing new ways to change the ethos of urban schooling. Our writers' suggestions and experiences are multifaceted and their opti mism is not grounded in a facile naivete that raises expecta lions disconnected from reality. All are practitioners and they write about the reality of their experiences. Imelda Castaneda-Emenaker and Lionel Brown address the complexities of city liv ing by suggesting six different types of alternative education. Hollyce C. Giles directs her attention to approaches to com munity organizing as a means for reform ing the schools. The richness of community cultures is echoed by Karina M. Jocson as not only a source of knowledge but also as a teaching resource. Gene Diaz describes teachers as urban gypsies who travel among us leaving their creative work as a gift to fractured and fragile communities. In their distinctive styles, each author high lights liberatory educational practices that foster the personal and social powers of students and teachers in urban areas. The
arts are the vehicle of choice for many of our writers.
Each semester, I begin my philosophy of education class by asking the students to provide adjectives that describe their notions of "a good education." Here are some of the words that I get: inspiring, joy ful, bottomless, challenging, messy, hopeful, Jun, concerned, multifaceted, complex, compel ling, caring passionate, liberating. I know that because these students in my class are future teachers, this is the kind of educa tion they want to provide for their stu dents. We continue the exercise and I ask them about their notions of "a good city." The words they offer are grand, sophisti ca·ted, nurturing, protective, multiethnic, noisy, challenging, center of civilization, tem-. pestuous, changing, exciting, multifaceted, available, alive, communal.
/ I am continually struck by the parallels ' between a good education and a good city. 'My students' voices and the voices in this book continually suggest that cities can contribute in very positive ways to the lives of teachers as well as students. For
. those of us who are teacher-educators, the responsibility is to assist our students to ask their own questions about the_relation ship between urban education and urban life. City teachers face the same dilemmas as their students. Neither geography nor personal and professional lives remain discrete entities.
THE IMAGINATION TO BUILD A MULTICULTURAL DEMOCRACY
Many urban teachers live in the city where they teach and their everyday life pulsates with urban rhythms. The chap ters in this handbook suggest in many ways that teachers need not only to under