Monday, December 17, 2012



This post has four reasons for being:

1)      its an act of desperation

2)      to remind those who would like to be reminded

3)      to remind those who would like NOT to be reminded

4)      to inform those who might not know.

^^from one of my favorite poems of all time and also might serve as my new year’s resolution

Lately, I have been gearing up to write my final paper for the semester. It’s a 15-20 page paper for EDUC 723: Multicultural Issues in Education.  It’s a research paper in which the topic for myself keeps fluidly changing as I navigate the texts available regarding the interrelatedness between critical race theory and education. There’s the general critical literature review that I could do right….but that’s just too easy.  

Funny how I asked for an extension just so I can have the opportunity to get my thoughts right on this one—like Christmas isn’t next week.  One part of my mind says nothing would give more pleasure than to be able to return to my borrowed NetFlix on-demand IPad app.

But the other side…the deeper, darker side is perplexed.  I’m finishing up my first semester at Penn GSE.  For all intents and purposes, its been a great ride.  I’m over-satisfied with the direction of the RWL program and overjoyed at the faculty connections I have made.  My advisor is Dr. Gadsden—don’t let me forget that I owe her this 15-20 page monster paper.

Why the build-up?  While working on my final class portfolios, I realized something about my work at Penn.  I was doing the assignments. I handed them in on time with proper citations and all the academic jargon that you need.  However, I totally forgot about pleasing the most significant portion of this entire experience—myself.

All these things that I have written, did I write them for me?  At the end of the day, what did I get out of it? What did I learn?  Most times I have no idea.  Of course, I retain some information.  I can spit a couple quotes from Lisa Delpit, I understand New Literacy Studies as formulated by James Gee, but what about my own theories, have I challenged them?

It all started when I found this document that I created two years ago to begin this journey into literacy.  Program Proposal for Chester Community Publishing.  Coming off of a solid year where I founded and administered the Chester High Entrepreneurship Club, Chester Community Publishing would be the next step.  As formulated, Chester Community Publishing sought to incentivize reading and writing in Chester, Pennsylvania by creating a community-owned publishing house where profits were split 50/50 between the program and the author.  What is a book anyway? Just a couple of PDF’s and maybe some scanned artwork.  I could do that.  Next thing you know, I had an entire proposal written.  Awesome period in time. Sadly, I can’t remember the feeling that compelled me to do it and that’s what caused me to begin the internal conversation of where my current motivations and passions lie.

Jump back to paper preparation. Now I’m trying to find articles that will work for this paper.  I come across this monster effort by Charles Lawrence: The Word and the River: Pedagogy as Scholarship as Struggle.  Man, I was in church when I read this—check it:

“I press on, despite my fears, with the sense of exhilaration and fatalism that one experiences in battle.  Perhaps I have the skill to walk the tightrope, to tell just enough of the truth to be bought out instead of wiped out….”

“It is the work of those [scholars] who remain cool and distant in the face of suffering because it is not their liberation, their humanity which is at stake…”

“Even when I managed to remain true to my convictions, professional pressures required that I employ language and references that threatened to make my work inaccessible to a large part of the audience I hoped to reach.”

“The disguises of abstract argument, hypothetical case, theoretical construct, and polite form have been removed. The full force of my feelings has been recaptured and expressed”



…And there’s more.

There’s just so much to this picture.  In many ways, I have been avoiding my own voice to embrace the so called academic cocktail party. Cite this here. Include a quote from this. The word “capitulation” comes to mind.  I feel lost at times. I don’t have that feeling that I started with. I’m here to uncover some truth and bring it back to Chester.  So I ask myself again…what did you learn?

The great part about it is now I’m beginning to have that real conversation with myself about exactly what do I want and I’m seeing that critical race theorists are bringing in what I’m searching by the truckload.  I then read more unassigned articles in the past week than the rest of the semester.  I have no idea what I am doing—well, actually I do—but I need to get writing on this paper.  You can’t be having life realizations during finals season. But yo…Check this jawn out from Charles Lawrence:

1. Speak simple truths to power.
2. Making our own communities our first audience.
3. Creating a homeplace for refuge and hard conversations.
4. Defining boundaries (knowing who is us and who is them).
5. Starting small (knowing that small is important and good).
6. Remembering that we are beautiful and that we are bad (or "the bomb").

I’m on this new mission to really embrace the ME first in my education.
Enjoy the Christmas break everyone and look forward to returning next semester ready to dig in.

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