Saturday, December 27, 2014

Discovering the Next Langston Hughes: Solution Three for Engaging Black Boys in Reading

This is part three of a five-part series the describes ways to create a classroom/school culture where African American males thrive in reading and writing (Click on part one and part two for prior installments).

3. Give multiple chances for African American males to speak and write about things they are passionate about (also give multiple performance opportunities)

"Without a vision, the people perish," was the title of the first speech I ever gave. I was barely ten. It was a rush, to be sure, but it was also a bit robotic. My speech was (thankfully), heavily crafted by my parents and I practiced it so much that the delivery felt more like an involuntary reflex than a dynamic presentation. Nonetheless, I was introduced to the public stage at an early age and almost twenty years later, I was here, speaking to hundreds of educators after receiving the 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year award. I doubt the second speech happens without the first one.

This same opportunity to speak publicly on issues of great importance is a characteristic of a culture that engages Black males in the reading, writing and speaking process. Below are five ways to establish this practice in your classroom/school:

1. Feature free-writes frequently.

My first year as a high school English teacher featured no less than five fights or near fights within the my first few months. All of them between and among Black males. Coming from middle school, I really hadn't experienced this. After going to a professional development session facilitated by the late, great Paul Slocumb on Boys in Crisis, I started to get some ideas. I followed that up with watching one of my favorite movies of all-time - 'Freedom Writers,' and it dawned on me that one part of the solution may be to give my Black boys the pyschological space to unload their thoughts, passions and fears. I established free-writes on almost a daily basis for all of my students. They were to write without stopping for at least five minutes on any topic they felt strongly about. If given permission, I would then read what they wrote (more on that in a future blog post). I didn't have one fight that year.

2. Main-Idea Mondays, Thematic Thursdays and Free-style Fridays. 

Take a literary skill that your Black males are already strong in, and give them an opportunity to publicly practice that strength with a literary practice of their choice (spoken word, speech, rap, free-style, poetry, song). You can do this weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly on pre-planned days. You can also have a majority of the Black males prepare and only call a few up in front of the classroom. (Or you could have them perform their pieces in pairs and by elimination, have the best five perform at the end of the class). Remember the focus is on their experiences, their passions and their strengths. If there is an opportunity to insert parts of the texts you're currently reading, then use it. If not, then don't.

3. Standardize the feedback loop for speeches.

In the masterful book, 'Leverage Leadership' by Paul Bambrick Santoyo, the idea of data-driven instruction is grounded in the practice of providing students (and teachers) with simple rubrics that are flexible enough to be used on multiple assignments and in multiple grades. This idea is buttressed by ideas in the fantastic book, 'Focus' by Mike Schmoker in which the idea of less is more when it comes to rubrics and assessments is emphasized. So, here's what that looks like in your classroom:

1/ Have students look at great and bad speeches.
2/ Allow them to critique both the good and bad speeches.
3/Pull out their critiques into a simple five-point rubric.
4/Create it and display it in the classroom (as well as throughout the school, if possible)
5/ Have every single speech, spoken word, rap or poem judged by that rubric for the duration of the year

4. Enthusiastically celebrate great writing by your Black male students.

When your Black boys create awesome works of prose or poetry, frame them. Celebrate them. Have the boys recite them. Reference lines from them in worksheets. In exemplars. In essays. Compare their writing to great writers from the past. Have them create a writer's notebook in which they keep beautiful pieces of writing from their outside-of-school experiences. Have them recite these pieces in front of the whole school....

5. Create school-wide opportunities for speaking (especially for Black males).

My senior year of high-school was pretty awesome. I finally had a grounding of who I was as a person as well at least more than three friends (don't laugh). I also was given the ability, along with my best friend, Paul Williams, to plan the school's first ever Poetry Slam. From the audition to the planning to the actual shows, it was one of the most powerful experiences I will ever have with writing and speaking. Some of the students (most of whom were Black males) who auditioned, literally took our breath away and did the same to the student body. It was there that I had a seminal moment in my life on stage. After struggling with being a year younger than all of my peers since the 5th grade, I finally made peace with my awkwardness and 'immaturity.' I came out in a shirt and tie and slacks and over-sized tennis shoes and performed a poem called 'Maturity.' (The mixture of clothes was to show that maturity can come in different forms and to honor the different parts of people who don't fit the accepted idea of 'normal'). I uttered my last line as a stinging rebuke to all of the taunts, cheers and teases hurled my way. The crowd erupted in applause. It was emotional. It was cathartic. It was magical.

When I first heard 'Harlem' by Langston Hughes, I was enthralled by how utterly simple he had captured the emotional battle between hope and despair. I never knew words could dance like that. Now, having heard it hundreds of times since then, I still am inspired by the musicality of his words. Hughes came out of a culture that allowed him to express these thoughts without edit and without censorship. If we are to uncover the next Langston, these same conditions have to exist in our classrooms. If it doesn't happen, where do the dreams, hopes and fears of our Black boys go? Maybe they just... explode.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Forgiveness and Ferguson: Seven Ways to Move Forward

"Forgiveness doesn't absolve anyone of blame. It doesn't clear their record with God. It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them. When you forgive another person, you're not turning them loose. You're just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way. You're saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation. It's not about winning and losing anymore. It's about freedom. It's about letting go." - Love Dare Reminders App

His hands were not up. 

Hours of testimony to a grand jury, with several Black eyewitnesses, revealed that Michael Brown wasn't surrendering, but advancing. Whether you believe it or not, that's what we have on official record in court. There are, of course, alternate versions of the account that could be the truth as well.

But that's not the point. 

If we focus just on his hands, or his situation, we miss a huge learning moment. A young, unarmed, Black male teenager lost his life. He lost it at the hands of a police officer who, according to hours of testimony, acted instinctively in a life or death situation. Focusing on that moment of confrontation misses the idea that the chance for this to end peaceably was lost at the beginning.

When Office Darren Wilson first approached Michael Brown and asked him and his friend to move to the sidewalk. Keep this picture in your mind - Officer Wilson first sees Michael Brown and his friend walking in the middle of the street. 

We will come back here a little later.
When I was a classroom teacher, I quickly learned the leveraging power of respect when engaging with young adults (males in particular). My years as a high school English teacher and basketball coach taught me that there are certain ways you approach young men if you want them to do something. Your tone and language can either defuse or elevate a situation. There are many times that I've chosen the wrong tone or spoken without empathy. The results were always bad. I think that's at least where we can start the learning for race relations - at the empathy level. So, here are seven starting points that could either help prevent another Ferguson situation or create conditions for better race relations overall:

1. Different races, mingling in intimate spaces. Different races rarely mingle together in spaces intimate enough for us to truly understand each other. White people have to be courageous enough to want to find out what it means to be Black in America. Black people have to be fearless enough to share our truth in a way that doesn't indict White Americans who may have no idea of the system in place. I've heard it said that racism rarely, if ever, survives experience. Maybe a start is for churches to start worshiping together at least once a month - the majority Black Baptist church mingling with the White Methodist church every First Sunday. This wouldn't solve everything, but could at least open us up to truly seeing each other in some of the most personal experiences we could have.

2. Healing from within. As Black people, we have to deal with our self-esteem. Decade after decade after decade, we live out centuries-old oppression in our daily lives without really addressing the historic scars that are still bleeding inside of us.

We still think about slavery. We still think about the idea that people who only differ from us in skin color can see us as property, inferior and a threat at the same time. We still have a desire to look pleasing and be acceptable to them. We still have to deal with a Euro-centric idea of beauty, professionalism and public behavior. It is not lost on us that most movie stars, magazine covers, Barbies, stocking colors and band-aids are all in the same hue.

We have to acknowledge the hurt we may feel and arm ourselves with the protection of poems like this one from Langston Hughes, or songs like this one from Donny Hathaway (originally Nina Simone). We need to make new songs, poems and movies that portray Blackness as it is - beautiful, undaunted, irrepressible, resilient, sexy, handsome and unstoppable. We don't need 'Black-ish', we need Black-ness!

This healing from within doesn't just stop with self-affirming literature, but it should travel between and among us in every sphere - when we encounter each other in the professional atmosphere, we should be the loudest ones praising each other. When we see each other doing well personally, we should be the first ones to support each other. When we see each other suffering, we should all band together to encourage and lift up. This way of behavior comes after we have reacquainted ourselves with our legendary history. This collective self-esteem is the power we need to continue pressing on, as Alice Walker put it, 'broad, ever moving and holy, as the sea.'

3. A true 'liberal' education. Don't get stuck at the word 'liberal,' as I am in no way suggesting a politically liberal perspective on education, but liberal in the sense that many perspectives and experiences are welcomed into education at all levels. From pre-kindergarten through a terminal degree, there should be perspectives from both the Conservative and Liberal perspectives. It should be known that our particular brand of slavery was peculiarly American. It should be known that reparations have been given to minorities in America already. Bill Clinton shouldn't be lionized anymore than Ronald Reagan should be demonized. In addition to multiple politically tinged perspectives, there should be room for multiple cultural perspectives. If you're a kindergarten student in Kansas, a book with a Black or Brown face should be commonplace. If you're a third-grader in Baltimore, Shakespeare and Claude McKay should be taught together. Because the canon of literature has been historically White and European, overt measures must be taken to put at the center of instruction books that highlight different cultures. When you constrict the point of view to one political side of the spectrum (depending on your state) or to one cultural perspective, you could get children sitting in their sects in the cafeteria who end up growing up and still sitting in their groups in the House and Senate. Grid-lock is a function of myopia, productive conflict is a result of multiple perspectives.

4. Black communities self-advocating. Although these steps aren't meant to be sequential, I think self-advocacy within the Black community happens logically after some healing and self-esteem has been built up within our community. After that, we learn to consistently, legally and effectively advocate for our agenda and our significance in every institution that traditionally under-serves us.

In practice, it looks like groups of Black parents collaborating on ways to bring concerns to the school if their Black males (or females) aren't achieving at high levels. Day, after day, after day, after day; until change happens. It's Black people voicing their displeasure at anyone in power if our needs aren't being addressed or helped politically, no matter who the party in power is. It looks like Black professionals advocating for the inclusion of other qualified Black professionals in positions where diversity can make a significant impact. It's about Black people being unafraid to levy their complaints and courageous enough to hold institutions financially or legally accountable if they do not serve our interests. We can't be afraid to advocate for ourselves.

Whether it be asking aloud the question of why there hasn't ever been a Black Bachelor(ette) on ABC, or wondering aloud why most of the magazines and greeting cards in a grocery store (or book store) don't show Black and Brown faces. We need to advocate for our place in a society that we helped build and have given a myriad of significant contributions to.

I do want to add that this is where the White community can band together with the Black community in yet another personal space and advocate with us for better education, better media images, better employment advancement, better living conditions and better economic outcomes.

5. Critically consuming media. In the absence of having real-life experience between different races, I think popular media's images and messages of Blacks has filled in the gaps. That's not a good thing. Blacks, and males in particular, are routinely shown to be hyper-aggressive, hyper-sexual and just plain hyper. For our country to move forward, we have to start calling out these one-sided, flat character portrayals of us. We are more than our worst characteristics and we are not monolithic as a culture. In fact, we aren't black-ish, so much as we are blackbrownwhitelatino-ish or blackconservativeliberal-ish or even blackchristianmiddlelowerclass-ish.  We are a beautiful combination of the best and worst parts of humanity - just like any other race. That's what we need to push for in social media, popular media and word of mouth.

We must also create our own rich images and messages and then vigorously support those images instead of the negative ones that are trotted out for us to consume in the feeding trough of popular media. This sentiment goes for the music industry as well. If we keep supporting violent messages about ourselves, how can we ever develop the self-esteem necessary to make better messages?

6. Returning our roots. This lengthy blog has basically said there are negative habits that we need to stop and positive ones we need to start. In order to determine positive from negative, there needs to be a common understanding of right and wrong. That understanding for many Blacks (and Whites) used to be the bible. Our roots when it comes to the Civil Rights movement or even before were firmly entrenched in the Christian faith. In the advent of the prosperity gospel and other wrong-headed moves of the church, Blacks have lost faith in that institution. That's not a good thing.

The morals and values communicated through active involvement in the church was the fabric that tied common decency together in our community. It was, and still is, the only place where Blacks were in intimate spaces, interacting mostly as equals despite socioeconomic status. In fact, socioeconomic status seems to be the dividing line within our community. We need to get back into the church. We need to reconnect with the spiritual foundation of our upward progress. Church can be a place of healing, of repair, of connection, of protection and of collaboration that we just don't have enough of in these times. To those who have walked away from church because of untrustworthy preachers or people - it's time to come back. It is time to forgive. We need you.

7. Forgiveness. During my first three years as a classroom teacher, I had pencils thrown in my direction, students rudely laugh directly in my face and two tires slashed, among other things. The first feeling that came to me after anger (and incredulity) left me, was a profound need to forgive. I needed to forgive the students regardless of their intent, because I myself have been forgiven for the many terrible things I have down in my life to other people either intentionally or unintentionally.

Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do when you have been hurt, but it's the most freeing thing to do. Just like the quote says at the beginning of this blog, it releases you from the responsibility of judgment and it frees you to be the better part of who you are. People who thrive off of hurt tend to never escape it. Forgiveness is also the one word missing from this discussion. I forgive Officer Darren Wilson. I don't know whether he intended to kill Michael Brown or not. I don't know for sure what happened in the situation. I do know that he killed a teenager and any decent human being never intends for that to be the result. I forgive him and we need to forgive him as a community. We also need to ask for forgiveness from the store-owners for the stores we looted and destroyed and any of the chaos we wrought upon innocent bystanders. We should be allowed to grieve openly, but not destructively.

Finally, we need to ask for forgiveness for years of underperforming, underachieving and not believing in our own ability to be the best we can be. We owe it to each other to be better in every part of our lives. We haven't been. There are legitimate barriers to our success, but the most significant one lies between our two ears. But it's okay to admit it and forgive ourselves. We can do better and we will. For this incident to have any lasting impact on our society - forgiveness needs to return to the scene and be prominently featured and lavishly given.

So, let's return to our earlier scene where Office Darren Wilson first sees Michael Brown and his friend. Only this time, let's imagine he went to a church that fellowshipped with a majority Black church. Maybe Michael Brown was a member of that church, or someone like him. Let's imagine that he's had intimate conversations with African-American teenagers, both male and female. Conversely, let's imagine that Michael Brown was self-assured enough to not view police officers or complying with authorities as a threat. Maybe he's had personal conversations with police officers of different races. I think the exchange may have been different.

In some form or another, racism may always exist in a country that began with it. But I am still confident enough to hope and believe that significant strides can still be made. Hope by itself is not a plan for action, but it certainly can be a strategy for protection and for motivation to improve our world. 

-Josh Parker
Black Male, and2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year

Friday, November 14, 2014

Examples are the Go-Cart of Judgment: Solution Two for Engaging Black Males in Reading

Solution Two - Always present texts and videos of speeches that show African-American males speaking well or that affirm the importance and power of African American males

"Indeed, the grand and only use of examples, is to sharpen the judgement...Examples, thus are the go-cart for the judgment." -Immanuel Kant

I've heard it said that if you don't know better you won't do better. I think there is truth to that. It probably follows that seeing is a way of knowing. One of the core principles of any instruction is to have exemplars of models of the assignment or end-product. This way, students can know what is expected. The same can be said for Black boys in regards to engaging them in reading and writing well - we need to see it before we do it, we need exemplars.

In my middle and high school years, I went to a church called Rhema Christian Center, located in Northeast, Washington D.C. Because my dad was a deacon, and perhaps because he wanted me to know God and stay off the streets, I would be in church at least three days a week and sometimes more. While there, I had the opportunity to see living, breathing models of Black males who connected articulation and passion regularly. I had Sunday school teachers, one of whom was my dad, who were unapologetically literate. These examples shaped my perception of what I could be as they normalized three ideas for me:

1. Black men can passionately express ideas without slang or cussing; 

2. Black men read well;
3. Black men speak well

This was in addition to the daily example of my father who read the bible often, required  'yes-sir' and 'no-sir' and never met a slang/cuss word he liked. Ever. Couple his example with my mother who was a schoolteacher and excellent example of articulate speech and I had several examples with which to form a literate identity. Everyone Black boy doesn't have the wealth of examples that I had, but you can make your home or your classroom a culture where those examples can live with these five practices:

1. Connect with the fathers in your school or men in your community and have them come to read to your boys monthly. There is a program that a co-worker of mine told me about that is based out of Houston called 'Real Men Read,' - check them out here.)

2. When possible, show footage of Black men who spoke passionately (Malcolm X), persuasively (Martin Luther King), poetically (Dr. Cornel West) and practically (Marc Lamont Hill). 

3. Show footage of Black men introducing critical ideas about popular culture such as this clip, where the author Thomas Chatterton Williams takes on Biggie and the current Hip-Hop culture to the amazement of all in attendance.

4. Comb through texts online and within your own school/home library that are short and powerful that give power to the perspective of a Black male or that affirm the identity of a Black male (Emancipation from Paul Laurence Dunbar being one of my favorites).

5. Have students keep record of poems and parts of texts or lyrics that affirm them or are meaningful to them. One way to do this is to keep a textual lineage (a picture of the template is below) so that they can keep a running record of texts that empower them. This can be done for pieces that they write as well. The idea is taking from an amazing book by Dr. Alfred Tatum which can be found here.)

Exercise some great judgment today and inspire a Black boy to read,
Josh Parker

Maryland Teacher of the Year '12


P.S. This is the third post in the series on Engaging Black Boys in reading started here: 

Solution One can be found here:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Allen Iverson, Narnia and Engaging Black Boys in Reading (Solution One)

In an earlier post, I talked about five ways to create a culture where Black boys can thrive in reading, you can read that here: . Today, I will go into some detail on the first solution:            

1.       Present diverse text sets (game recaps, poetry, rap) in the classroom that are thematically connected and engaging to the interests of African American males

When I was in middle and high school, there were several texts that I loathed to read. As an adult, I can’t get enough of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and ‘Things Fall Apart,’ but as an African-American male growing up in the emerging world of Hip-Hop/R & B (when it was good), Michael Jordan and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, those books did not engage me. So I did what everybody else did, got the cliff notes, breezed through some of the pages and tried to answer questions to the best of my ability. The worst I could have gotten was a ‘C.’

While that was my in-class reading profile, my out of school reading profile had variety, color and interest. When I left school and went home, I constantly read the latest basketball game recap. The recaps then led to me reading longer essays about sports and especially about its most colorful characters. I remember reading a caption of a picture Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson (A.I.). He had this menacing look on his face (per his usual) when staring at a referee and the word ‘truculent’ appeared just under it.  At the ripe old age of 12, I didn’t know what it meant, but I had an idea. I didn’t know truculent – but I knew A.I. , so I put two and two together and confirmed the definition later with a dictionary. This was just one of the many texts that I would read outside of class.

I will never forget the first time I slipped into Narnia with Lucy, Peter and Edmund. I literally could feel the snow on my fingers when they slipped through that wardrobe. It was if I was in the text. Right on my bedroom floor, I was in another place. A Black boy reading The Chronicles of Narnia? Absolutely! That was my passion. Since I was just getting into the church, the religious undertones spoke to me as well. (Little did I know just how religious C.S. Lewis was). So that’s really the point - what I was passionate and interested about, I fed through my literate habits outside of the school. It wouldn’t be until halfway through high school that my outside life and classroom life would start to merge. Black boys today should not have to wait that long. Here are some starting points for building a culture where they can feel at home, in school:

1.       A culture for student engagement reading should be grounded in data that makes a difference: diagnostic tests (to know where your boys are), specific interest surveys (to know what your boys like) and curricular goals (to know where your boys should be).

2.       Images can be posted around the room of real-life characters that are important to boys as well as images of males reading and easy-to-remember affirming quotes

3.       Know the interests of every Black boy in your room and keep a file folder (digitally or physically) where you keep articles of interest to them. You can daily scroll or for game recaps, ask other males in the building what they read, ask the boys themselves what they read outside of school and make every effort to give them those articles as often as you can.

4.       Have a collection of poems, quotes, lyrics, short stories or even short biographies from different athletes that can help introduce the theme or main idea of a text before you actually read the text itself. This way, your boys can have an easier access into the text itself.

5.       Every text you put in front of a Black boy has to be powerful, fast-moving and engaging. Find those parts in each text and highlight them before or even during the reading and based upon your assessment, make sure that each boy can decipher the vocabulary and read the text fluently.
Lastly, make sure that texts that are encouraging, affirming, emotional and powerful are regularly put in front of Black boys faces. The more we can see how words can connect to the deepest parts of us as well as the deeper parts of society, the easier we will be able to do it when we’re older.
In a future posts, we will get into Solution Two: 2. Always present texts and videos of speeches that show African-American males speaking well or that affirm the importance and power of African American males

For now, have a great day and don’t be truculent with anyone today!

-Josh Parker
MD Teacher of the Year ’12


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

On Suffering

"So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." I Peter 5:10

In your life, tough times are inevitable. Whether they be in the classroom, the office or the home, suffering hits all of us at one time or another. Maybe the most disarming thing about tough times is that they seem to come unannounced. They seem to come and perch right on your arm without notice and without warning. But, once it’s there, what do you do? It depends on how it came and how you perceive the role of suffering.

If the suffering came as a result of your own actions, then you are to endure it as a logical consequence. It still doesn’t make it feel better, nor go down any easier, but nonetheless suffering of that sort is probably there to remind you in the future to not make the same decision. There’s quite a bit to learn from the suffering of this type. I can recall many times in the classroom where I’ve done something that has gone terribly – my subsequent suffering taught me what not to do. Never waste the value of non-examples, for they are the most abundant types.

If the suffering came seemingly without any cause, you can find comfort in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who once said – ‘unearned suffering is redemptive.’ There is a payday at the end of your suffering, which brings me to the establishing scripture at the top of this post.

Suffering builds character. Character helps support and strengthen you in the next season. This support can only come once suffering has it’s time – ‘after you have suffered a little while.’ Now, we can debate what God meant by ‘a little while,’ but suffice it to say that every suffering period has an expiration date. That’s good news.

Creating a Culture where Black Boys Thrive in Reading

African-American males, like all students, benefit greatly from being able to read and write well. But reading and writing well is not enough. It certainly wasn’t for me. As a Black boy growing up in a predominantly African-American district, I was able to read and write so well that my parents allowed me to skip the fourth grade. Still, reading didn’t take on a transformative place for me until high school. I can only imagine what would have happened if Ms. Dew, my 10th grade teacher hadn’t taken the time to create conditions that spoke to who I was as a Black Boy. It’s possible that I am not even writing this blog to you. It’s certainly unlikely that I would have been blessed to become the only African American male from Baltimore County Public Schools to ever win the Maryland State Teacher of the Year award. So, there has to be something more that our potential-rich Black males get out of the reading process than just discrete skills. For this experience to happen though, the conditions have to be present for the culture to take hold. Below are five ways that culture can be created:

1. Present diverse text sets (game recaps, poetry, rap) in the classroom that are thematically connected and engaging to the interests of African American males

2. Always present texts and videos of speeches that show African-American males speaking well or that affirm the importance and power of African American males

3. Give multiple chances for African-American males to speak and write about things they are passionate about (also give multiple performance opportunities)

4. Connect the African-American male students in your class with their historical counterparts

5. As a teacher, show love, compassion, interest and empathy for their lives outside of school
I will go into detail on each strategy in the next few blog posts.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Global Learning and the Classroom

"Exposure enlarges the mind and gives birth to creative solutions for the betterment of the human condition"
Teachers must have a global perspective because we are a global world. Technology, trade and advancements have knocked down walls and have instead built bridges across the world. Additionally, a global perspective helps one to appreciate and recognize the diversity that is within their community.

And of course, as you value the diverse perspectives and cultures of your own students, bridges can also be built between students and teachers in a way that is instructive and successful. International travel grants students the opportunity to be connected to something larger than themselves. To be able to stare out on the ocean or see the Christ the Redeemer statue is to realize that you are a part of an international network of humanity that is capable of enjoying natural beauty as well as creating it. How can one build the next Christ the Redeemer statue if one's never seen it? Exposure enlarges the mind and gives birth to creative solutions for the betterment of the human condition.

The global innovation age is an age that is powered by freedom, creativity and exposure. In this innovation age, the currency is ideas and these ideas are best fostered in classrooms that honor the culture and potential of each student. Additionally, by exposing the student to different cultures and ways of thinking, the student begins to understand the responsibility he/she has to the community and the world at large.

If we defined the world as a mixture of cultures, one need not travel far to replicate it. If traveling beyond the borders isn't possible, perhaps a journey inward is first important. As an educator, you could get in touch with the cultures that shape you. Study their origins via the internet and multimedia projects/experiences. Once this inward journey is complete, maybe the next logical step is to see the cultures and countries that live around you. Exploring the cultures of students in your school will further serve as a microcosm of the global community itself. At its core, global education is mostly about exposing the traveler to lands, people and traditions that have their own back-story.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Virgin Blog

So this is my first blog. I'm sure I've actually written this years ago, as I've always had something to say. But, officially I want to say hello to the world. My name is Joshua Parker and I am many things, but above all a Christian, husband, father, educator and African-American. What you can expect from this blog is quality material, insight and information about a range of topics from education, to popular culture to spirituality and everything in between. Hopefully in a little while, I'll have a fully fledged site with more bells and whistles. For now, this is me. Hope you're informed by what I say and that I can learn from what you know. Have a great day on purpose. Be the thermostat.