The Last Days of Summer

Posted on 24 July 2019 Wednesday


This summer, I’ve worked with teachers oblivious even to the ALA Youth Media Awards and I’ve worked with those on the cutting edge of #disruptingtexts. How shall the two ever meet? How will educators who feel the pressure of just getting through the day ever be able to benefit from leaders in their field when they have neither the time or money for conferences, journals or even the free stuff provided on social media? The really sad thing is that school leaders are happy to have educators who don’t disrupt the status quo; who aren’t critical in their approach to learning and who don’t teach young people to be critical. Friends, the system is broken.

This summer, teachers told me of classes with no textbooks, libraries with no librarians and a push to go paperless with no sort of strategy or planning and no training to transform learning in a 21st century kind of way. Friends, the system is broken.

However, in just the past two days, I’ve seen a glimmer of hope. As we’ve all been finding out in this terrifying new America that calls itself “great again”, we have to save ourselves. Leaders have always known this, known not to rely on someone else to show up and save them. Pura Belpré, Spencer Shaw, Oralia Garza de Cortés, Wilma Mankiller, Don Nakanishi, Mary McCloud Bethune, Augusta Baker, Howard Zinn, Ellen Oh and Malala Yousafza may have achieved big names, but they’re really ordinary people like you and me who didn’t wait for someone else to do the work. It’s not that they saw past the obstacles, most of them never saw obstacles, just something that needed to be done.

The same goes for so many teachers who have been posting on Twitter over the past couple of days. They know summer’s more than half way gone and that it’s time to end the vacation and gear up for learning. They’re looking at new ways of thinking and learning. Most of them are looking for ways to develop anti-imperial curriculum and they’re doing this from the top down: from the way classroom routines are structured (hint: they’re implementing student led practices) to the way literature and social studies are approached. Here are a few of the resources I’ve gathered from my limited interactions (I’m mostly offline and writing this summer) so please, add additional resources in the comments that support anti-imperial, anti-racist work. I’d even ask that you provide ways you’re getting information about voting into the curriculum because it’s truly imperative that we get those who will be eligible to vote out to the polls.

In addition to good materials, I’m giving you names you should follow on Twitter. Yes, my friends Twitter really is a force for good.

https://www2.ncte.org/blog/2017/08/there-is-no-apolitical-classroom-resources-for-teaching-in-these-times/

http://sadker.org/curricularbias.html

And, books were mentioned. Listing books is tricky. I haven’t read all these books, so consider this a listing and not an endorsement. Why list and not endorse? Because teachers are reading these books and if they’re problematic, someone needs to tell them. If you know there are concerns about any of these books, please mention them in the comments. There are gaps! There are books I cannot mention because I’m on an award committee (but, you can post them in the comments) and there are entire groups of people, themes and historic events that are missing from this list.

This list was generated from a query from Hayley Breden.

The entire catalog from AK Press, http://akpress.org which is enriched with podcasts.

Call Them by Their True Names and Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Notes from No Man’s Land and On Immunity by Eula Biss

Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

And What Does it Mean to be White by Robin DiAngelo

The Racial Imaginary edited by Claudia Rankine

The Racial Imaginary Institute https://theracialimaginary.org/

Zinn Education Project

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson with Tonya Bolden (young people’s edition of White Rage)

From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Anarcha Speaks : A History in Poems by Dominique Christina

Why You Can’t Teach United States History without American Indians by Susan Sleeper-SmithJuliana Barr , et al.

The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Freedom Road by Howard Fast

Just Mercy Young People’s Edition by Bryan Stevenson