19 Urban Questions: Teaching in the City

By Shirley R. Steinberg; Joe L. Kincheloe | Go to book overview

AFTERWORD

What Didn't We Ask?
Keepin' It Real

Shirley R. Steinberg

The number 19 is my metaphor for the city. It is an arbitrary marker for urban movement. Walking down the stairs to the subway in downtown Manhattan, travelers go under the 1 and the 9…the red line, the train that runs north and south on the west side of the island. The red number 1 + 9 (19) is indelible in my mind as the label that signals the cavernous expanse traveled every day by thousands, tens of thousands. Nineteen is the hurried glimpse of straphangers, school kids in uniform, subway sleepers, musicians, and beggars. Nineteen is the urban—continually moving, dirty, smelly, dark and dank, yet energetic, strong, and unyielding. The dichotomies of the urban landscape fill our every sense. And we have 19 questions…

Can we stop at 19? Have we answered all the questions? Of course not, there are 19 and 19 more…190, 1,900 more urban questions to ask. This book only scratches the grimy surface of those questions. We wrote this book and asked these questions because we love the urban, the raw, the sophisticated, the beautiful, and beastly part of cities. We love the pulsating beats of the trains, the people, and the huge police horses. The urban scape is the culmination of the postmodern condition: aged and new, traditional and cutting edge. We are committed to the urban and to urban dwellers—most importantly, to urban children and schooling. Consequently, we must ask questions and tentatively find answers and solutions to the enigmatic conditions in which we find ourselves: teachers in a love/hate struggle with the environment of the city classroom. I hope that you were able, as

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