Services are drying up, monies are not available except for anything associated with the military-industrial complex, and our kids are not getting educated. Within days of each other, we have an article about the Randolph Learning Center needing mentors, and then in following days, the Education Coalition (notice front-page headline [in the Asheville Citizen-Times]) is closing its doors for lack of funding.
And, it was especially telling that the Sisters of Mercy did not re-grant the Coalition because it felt there was not enough emphasis on the needs of the African-American student, while the Randolph Center, which is predominantly black, needs more help!
This is a natural opening for a conversation. Our African-American children are so disenfranchised by the educational system because they are not part of “his” story. Education in America is purely Eurocentric-based. Nowhere in school books do you find the contributions with which black men and women gifted this country. Does this not beg for attention?
Can we understand that if you are not seeing yourself while sitting in school—why stay? Why be interested? Especially when the message is: I obviously don’t matter! (and all this while the prisons are being amply funded and inhabited!)
Isn’t it time we attend to the true needs of our students? Not how they test, but how they can be tested for living life as contributing people, ready to use their skills and self confidence and natural creativity to build understanding—not division.
Isn’t it also true that when we learn how to fish, we can then eat everyday? So why are we not giving our students the opportunity to fish? Let’s turn this around! Have students get involved in experiential projects that allow them to explore, ask, seek, broaden and most of all—learn how to think!
As ones who have taught, we have found that engaging teaching is not by rote, nor by numbers and certainly not by the standards of the 19th century chalkboard! It is by participation in experiential, wholistic creativity and positive knowledge empowerment.
Let every child experience and soak in what it really means to learn, while witnessing firsthand the joy of participating in something that is uplifting, interesting and life-skill productive.
Is the answer: “Yes, we can” provide educational sustenance?
— Ariel Harris and Jamal Jabali