Embracing the Historical Legacy of Young, Gifted, and Black Educators

Article excerpt

Connections to Teacher Preparation

The historical legacy of young, gifted, and black educators can be incorporated in the content of instruction for a variety of courses offered in most teacher education programs, such as Literacy Methods, Social Studies Methods, Multicultural Perspectives, and History of American Education. The lesson that follows is an activity that highlights a spotlight text, incorporates group work, and allows teacher candidates to engage in reflective practices.

Goals of the Lesson Plan

The larger goals for teacher candidates in this lesson are as follows: (1) Gain knowledge about the history of Black educational thought; (2) Learn about an educational pioneer that fought for the educational advancement of students of color; and (3) Reflect on the impact of this knowledge on their instructional practices as future teachers.

Objectives

Teacher candidates will describe, discuss, and defend the history of Black educational thought by critically reading an assigned text, participating in group and class discussions, and engaging in reflective practices.

National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) Standards

* Assist learners in acquiring knowledge of the historical content in United States history in order to ask large and searching questions that compare patterns of continuity and change in the history and values of the many peoples who have contributed to the development of the continent of North America;

* Help learners analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture in both historical and contemporary settings;

* Guide learners as they construct reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues.

Activity Session

1. Preparation

At the end of the preceding class, have students log in their reflection journals a response to the following question: "What is the history of Black educational thought?" Then, assign pages 11-51 for students to read from the spotlight text described below, which is the section titled "Freedom for Literacy and Literacy for Freedom: The African-American Philosophy of Education."

Spotlight Text: Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Academic Achievement among African-American Students by Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hillard III, Boston: Beacon, 2003.

In Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Academic Achievement among African-American Students, Perry describes an African American philosophy of learning that historically viewed literacy as the practice of freedom and served to motivate generations of Blacks to pursue education through the passing down of oral and written histories. She argues that this oral and written tradition of literacy as the practice of freedom served as an important component of black intellectual identity development. In the proceeding chapters, Perry uses this African American educational philosophy of learning to refute post-civil rights deficit views that African American students don't want to learn and outlines critical theoretical and practical implications for the practices of teachers, schools, and communities.

2. Whole Class Discussion

Open the class by providing an overview of the Black aspirations and commitment to education (use Spotlight Text and Teacher References as needed). Explain that the biographical narratives incorporated in the first section of the spotlight text illustrate important components of Black educational thought. Have the class focus on the biographical narrative of Septima Clark, an influential African American educator during the civil rights movement. Guide the class through a discussion of the Septima Clark narrative using the following conceptual categories: Views of Schools, Education, and Learning (What were her experiences teaching in schools? What value did she place on education and why? …