Monday, July 18, 2016

Author's Advice to White Teachers in Urban Schools: Drop the 'Savior Complex' and Learn from Students

Author's Advice to White Teachers in Urban Schools: Drop the 'Savior Complex' and Learn from Students:

Author’s Advice to White Teachers in Urban Schools: Drop the ‘Savior Complex’ and Learn from Students

Chris Emdin


  Dr. Christopher Emdin is a passionate and unapologetic advocate for the advancement of urban education nationwide. In his book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too, Emdin, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, conveys his methods of “reality pedagogy” and challenges the biased perception of inner city youth being “unreachable.” White educators are not in the classroom to “save” students, he writes, but should focus instead on integrating the cultures and views of the students into the learning experience. As the teacher’s perception of the students changes, Emdin believes, so will the students’ attitudes towards the value of education. Emdin recently spoke with NEAToday.

What are trends in education over the last few years or so that prompted you to write the book?
Chris Emdin: I think the biggest trend in contemporary education that I found problematic, is that it’s layered. There is a high number of educators teaching in schools highly populated with students of color that don’t reflect the community. If you go in schools right now, almost all black schools have a 90% white staff. And of course you hear or see that and go “well, that’s interesting,” but most of these staff don’t live in the community, they don’t understand the community, they don’t know the socio-economic background of the community, and have a perception about those students based upon were they come from.
There are teachers who are not being trained appropriately. Not to speak negatively about education schools, but there are people coming out of school with a Masters or Bachelor’s in education, taking one class in multiculturalism, or one class on ethnicity, race and politics. Then these teachers go into spaces where race, politics, ethnicity and class are the biggest factors they have to face. There’s also the idea of the hyper-scripted curriculum that the teachers don’t have the space to ask the students about who they are.
What has been the reaction of white educators to the title of the book?
CE: I’ve gotten everything from “Oh wow, thanks for telling the truth!” to “This man is racist.” I’ve gotten to the point in time, my life and my mission where I’m not going to allow political correctness to inhibit me from saying what needs to be said. If you’re not ready to talk about that fact that you are white in a black and brown school, then you shouldn’t be ready to teach in that school.
I’m not demonizing white folks or speaking to just white folks, I’m speaking to the rest of y’all too! There are black folks who also enforce those same white supremacist ideologies. The tools are for everyone, the tools are for the fact that we have 80% of white people in urban schools, but it’s also for you black and brown educators who are conditioned to accept the pedagogies that white folks are Author's Advice to White Teachers in Urban Schools: Drop the 'Savior Complex' and Learn from Students:

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