For decades, critiques of the educational system saying that curricula are culturally biased, therefore making learning harder for kids of color. Many feel that students can’t relate to what’s happening in the classroom and become disenchanted. Christopher Emdin, a Columbia University’s Teachers College professor, feels that he has the answer for classroom environments comprised of mostly urban youth: turn it into gang territory.
Emdin’s theory is outlined in his new book, For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood…And The Rest Of Y’all Too, a text targeting White educators and educators from different backgrounds than their students. The Huffington Post reports:
Gangs give their members true responsibility, says Emdin, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. They make their members feel like they’re part of a family — a unit that will protect them. They give members a sense of “cosmopolitanism,” or make them feel they’re valued citizens of a larger community.
“I want that same type of energy in the classroom,” said Emdin, who spent years as a K-12 science and math teacher in underprivileged areas. “I want kids to feel like they are responsible for each other’s learning, that they have their own special handshake. I want them to feel like they have their own special name. I want them to feel like the classroom wouldn’t run or operate without them.”
Also covered in the book is Emdin’s promotion of “reality pedagogy” over “white folks’ pedagogy.” Reality pedagogy is defined by the professor as “an approach to teaching and learning that has a primary goal of meeting each student on his or her own cultural and emotional turf.” White folks’ pedagogy is “the pre-eminent method of teaching he says fails to take students’ cultures into account and instead expects them to cater to dominant white culture.”
Read HuffPo’s interview with Emdin, here.