We are called to ensure the growth of ALL students, yet African American boys in our country tend to be outperformed by almost all other subgroups.
The author points out:
According to a 2011 study by the Center for American Progress, 83% of the teachers in the United States are white, while only 56% of the students are.
In West Virginia, 98% of the teachers are white. In Louisiana, 46% of the student population is African American, but only 19% of the teachers.
None of this means that African American students “require” African American teachers. It is simply a matter of observation and confrontation and opportunity—having divergent races—that sometimes diverge culturally as well—work together to heal their mutual vulnerability–one to reach, one to be reached.
This naturally creates some differences.
With those differences, understanding a students’ culture and experiences becomes even more important to meeting their needs. The author goes on to give his advice for all educators.
…the best advice I can give (if I am qualified to give any) for reaching the African American male in the classroom is really no different than I’d offer for any other student or gender.
Use the natural vulnerability of learning to expose the fiber of the student as a human being.
Then, use the complexity and diversity of your own experience as a framework to understand theirs.
Agitate them cognitively so that they tend to first study themselves, not others.
I think of this advice and remember the 3rd R, Relationships. Do we take all the necessary steps to build rapport and positive relationships with all of our students? I’m not making any racial implications, but asking do we take steps to value the experiences of our students regardless of backgrounds and use those experience to encourage learning?