Friday, May 10, 2013

The Danger of a Single Story

I'm intrigued by this entire talk but a golden line for me is  "The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.  They make one story become the only story."

This quote and Adichie's linking of stories with power makes me think of the stock media image of Urban Schools with "bad" students and "bad" teachers both in need of fixing and saving.  This is one story.  There are other stories, not just of hero students and teachers despite all of this, but of real teachers and students in Urban schools working very hard to do well and pass the tests, and of these same teachers and students working to go beyond the what the tests require.  The one story of  the media image of Urban Schools has to power to define what it means to be a "good teacher" or "good"student in Urban Schools.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Yesterday I opened a workshop with a group of pre-service teachers using "Fire" by Judy Brown.

This is not the first time I've read the poem or even the first time I've used it in a workshop, but it still got me thinking, and thinking hard about the teacher I am and the teacher I want to be.

I want to be the teacher who creates that sheltered space between the logs.  That safe, breathing space; the open space that makes the fire - the learning- possible.

But surveillance sometimes sneaks in and I hold on too tightly.  I find myself asking "are they doing all of the assignments, or trying to sneak something by me?  Am I holding them accountable enough?  Am I leaving too much space?  So much that a gust of adolescence can come through and blow out the flame?"

Returning now to Brown's poem I am reminded that neither the log stacking or space making just happens.  Both require careful attention.  The space has to work with the fuel together to make fire.  The teacher has to be there to guide and make space for learning to happen all at the same time, and nudge lightly from time to time.