The horse and the water

Week of October 20-24

I'm attending a conference in Milwaukee hosted by the Council of Great City Schools on "Improving the Achievement of Young Men of Color." The Council is a collective group of America’s large, urban public school districts committed to educating diverse student bodies. 

What's clear from this meeting is that concern over the achievement levels of black males is not limited to Minneapolis. The leader of the general session keeps asking us, "What are you going to do differently?" Everything we've been doing thus far has gotten us these results we have now.

This question is the basis of why I'm approaching the work looking to jointly develop a Minneapolis solution rather than trying to force a preconceived, one-size-fits-all answer. I acknowledge that I don't have all the answers, but I know we have to approach our current situation differently. 

As I ponder the state of affairs here with Minneapolis and MPS, the question that keeps coming to my mind is, "Are we trying to solve a non-academic issue with an academic solution?" 

It brings me to the analogy that everyone loves to use ... you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.  Well, (a) why is the horse thirsty and (b) what's in the water that we are trying to get them to drink?

The horse is the children and the water is education.  How and what are we doing intentionally to make the kids thirsty for the knowledge we deem necessary for them?  It's critical that we show them why the information we want them to have is necessary, clearly articulate the value this information provides and use this information to create a strong sense of self.

That leads directly to curriculum.  Are we only providing history or knowledge of self starting in 1619 when slavery started in America? What about our rich history of being architects and building the pyramids which took great mathematical skills?  We have to provide our black males with that rich history so they can see themselves as scholars and contributors, not victims.

The work continues.

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