The Message or the Messenger: Reflection on the Volatility of Evoking Novice Teachers' Courageous Conversations on Race
Amobi, Funmi A., Multicultural Education
I have said this to all of you in other classes, I believe that the reason why there was so much opposition to Dr.-'s discussion of the relationship between race and achievement gap in this class is not because of the message, but because of the messenger. (student comment)
Every teacher is a messenger. The message that a teacher communicates and portrays is acquired formally and informally through systematic study, and environmental and socialization processes. While formal study happens consciously within a particular period of time, experiential learning that impinges on the development of the message happens all the time. It is a pervasive force with a long incubation period. No matter how the effects of environmental processes are suppressed and ignored, eventually they must crystallize and serendipitously or overtly impact one's practice of giving the message.
In my professional experience as a classroom teacher and as a teacher educator, I have defined myself variously as a teacher/scholar, a reflective practitioner, and recently as a border-crosser, but I had not perceived myself as a messenger. The quote above inspired reflection not only on the "message" that prompted it, but also on the origins and metamorphosis of my messages in teacher education.
I acquired the initial license and stamp of approval to tell my message when I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in my country of birth, Nigeria, West Africa. This accomplishment positioned me as a federal education officer with the privilege of assisting younger minds to grasp the chronological details and intricacies of European history, British history, African history, and Nigerian history and government. At this point in my message-delivering development, there was little attempt to doctor the message in any way. The message that I acquired in my learning was routinely delivered as received.
In fact, the onus was on a messenger of my caliber, a federal education officer, to keep the message that I communicated to advanced level, university-bound students- the crème de la crème-of Nigerian secondary education students close to the messages that I had received about these subjects from my university professors and textbooks. The best messengers communicated the authoritative message without diversion. I graduated in the second-class upper division category, a strong endorsement of the high quality of my message acquisition and a guarantee that I should be a career-long expert-transmitter of the message.
I did not disappoint or waiver from the trust that was committed to me. I proclaimed the message vigorously for eight years to several classes of students and took pride in my charges gaining admission to tertiary institutions in the country. Having presented the same message to different groups of students over and over for this period of time, I came to the point of wanting to receive more myself. Although the message was new and fresh in the ears and minds of the hearers and receivers, it was no longer sustaining my own intellect. Therefore, I set my sights on "going abroad" to study, to rejuvenate myself as a messenger by exponentially expanding the knowledge that informed my message.
The desire to elevate my place as a messenger of teaching and learning and thereby increase my message-giving capacity became a reality when I crossed physical and literal borders to find myself seated in a university classroom about 10,000 miles from my country, a minority 'other' among members of the dominant group in the country of my border-crossing, a giver of a message turned receiver (Amobi, 2004). The process of acquiring the message and reaching the goal of attaining a doctorate degree in secondary education was fraught with superficial, man-made roadblocks that border-crossers usually confront: marginalization, initial lack of acceptance, covert second-guessing of the border-crosser's …
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Publication information: Article title: The Message or the Messenger: Reflection on the Volatility of Evoking Novice Teachers' Courageous Conversations on Race. Contributors: Amobi, Funmi A. - Author. Magazine title: Multicultural Education. Volume: 14. Issue: 3 Publication date: Spring 2007. Page number: 2+. © 2005 Caddo Gap Press. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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