Why Reconnecting with our Black Youth is Critical amid COVID-19: Educating the past, present & future

 From the poorest of countries to the richest of nations, education is the key to moving forward in any society. ~Nelson Mandela

It is an extreme blessing from God that I can educate my son about the times in which we live. I can help him in managing the transition from “Brick -N- Mortal to Click-N-Order, allow him room to become a critical thinker and be a voice of reason concerning his mental development. As a 14-year-old my son allows me to view the world through the lens of a teenager. Although, my wisdom is sufficient to help him and myself to navigate these unchartered waters; I am beginning to see new patterns emerge as it relates to my purpose on this earth. At times, as with all parents we may feel as if our words are not penetrating deep enough. It’s a mater of life and death in terms of making sure we prepare them for the road ahead. Yes, they will make tons of mistakes in the real world despite the upbringing but its more about giving them a moral & ethical foundation around the concept of education that will be key to moving forward in any society.

If you can believe it God has taken America back to educational standards in the Ancient (New Testament) world; where the home was the chief institution for the dispensation of elementary education. Synagogues, and mosques were constructed with attached schools where all children could be found, like what we see today with many of our private & parochial Christian school settings. Because of this global pandemic we currently face parents are now being forced somewhat to educate from home and to get back to the worship of God through family. The dinner table now glows with great wisdom because fast food & fine dining eateries can’t consume family time that has been placed outside the home. Yes, the social interaction kids are used to has taken a hit only for a moment. In time the world will look back and realize the benefits and blessings of perpetuated ignorance (i.e. man-made diseases).   

So, now we get a chance to reconnect with our sons in a way that becomes more in the way of establishing a legacy. It’s an opportunity to expand our horizons, learn new things, explore and just be able to impact the minds of future generations to come. When it come to instructing our sons, we must tell them the obstacles and hurdles that we overcame and those that they may face in the future. These times allow God to come to the forefront as the foundational piece for their success. As an Educationist, Entrepreneur, Father & Mentor to young men it’s important that I start in my own home and pour out into my son. He needs to understand about Ancient African Civilizations, why faith is a key ingredient to his success and how he can lead our legacy into the next 10 generations. It’s not an easy proposition considering the reality of a teenager in America during such a crisis as it’s a lot to unpack for these youngsters. Unless I can get my son to produce for his community I have failed as a father.

The responsibility inherent in being able to provide jobs, educate and lead others is something for which start our young men down the road towards manhood. It’s an incredible assertion for black males to think manhood starts when they have a baby, go to college, get married or even in African tradition turn twelve (rights of passage). Scientifically, men don’t truly start to hit their stride until the age of 40-50 and around 60 as a means for controlling industries. The notion is that educating and reconnecting with our sons helps us to see how vulnerable we are in these throws of life. At the of 38 I am still in need of many counselors and wise men who can lead me beyond my present circumstances. It truly takes a village just see our children reach the age of 30 let alone 40, 50, 60 or even 70. We must be able to give our young men knowledge and discretion that they may be able to hear and increase in their own understanding.

The COVID-19 is something that will reset the educational systems of America as we know it. It’s an invisible reset one for which can’t be seen by all. August 2020 marks the end of our 400-year conquest as subjugated patrons in America. These 400 years of miseducation was deliberate which means it will take a revolutionary stance in order to fight for the minds of our youth. God sent the manmade plagues (COVID-19) because Pharaoh refused to let go of the oppressive hold they have placed on the minds of our youth. Dr. Amos Wilson, noted African American theoretical psychologist, social theorist, Pan-African thinker, scholar, author and former professor of psychology at the City University of New York; explains that “It’s important to study the framework of black education within the context of an oppressive system that profits from the mental subjugation of black minds”   

And because black minds have been educated in such an oppressive educational system for the last 200 years; will take a village to produce free minds that can be trained to become men. It’s a process that is happening as we currently speak and process that calls for reconnecting with our black sons the world over. As crazy as it sounds educating black youth in a mammon laden culture calls for more businessmen to specialize in education as means for returning products of our labor back into our own communities.

CEO of Jerusalem: 5 EdTech Tips from Africa’s Modern-Day King Solomon

ALIKO DANGOTE

“People in markets find a way of getting down to the essentials of I have, you want; you have, I want.”
― Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and SpeechesPlan All the Way to The End:

PLAN ALL THE WAY TO THE END “The ending is everything , Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, an twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances an you will know when to stop. Gently, guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead”

TRANSFORM YOUR WAR INTO A CRUSADE “The Secret to Motivating people and maintaining their morale is to get them to think less about themselves and more about the group. Involve them in a cause, a crusade against a hated enemy. Make them see their survival as tied to the success of the army as a whole’

In November 2019, I received word that I would be travelling by years end. With only 48 days left in the year I thought that would be impossible due to the foreseeable circumstances that was already in place. After the new year arrived and left in the same breath no travel on my part had taken place. I thought nothing of it considering I had been programmed all my life here in America to place December 31 as the end of a yearly cycle. I know that China celebrates the new year on January 25 th 2020(Year of the rat) but to my surprise in February 2020 I traveled to 4 different cities, met multiple business professionals and was able to gain a perspective like no other. These progressive exposures helped me to remove my mental slave conditioning & old fears concerning the things that lies outside of my realm of understanding.

A shift took place right before my eyes and I had to rethink what “Years End” means? I had to unlearn my previously held consumptions of time. I had to unlearn what it means to be successful in a world that is progressively changing at God Speed. I needed to plan all the way to the end and transform my war into a crusade, like Aliko Dangote (The Richest Man in Africa). One of the greatest lessons I was able to glean from Mr. Dangote was the importance of cutting out the middleman and building your own empire. Although, he came from a wealthy Muslim family, he was still able to start from the ground up and incorporate humility as a practice in his daily life.  It’s this Entrepreneurial spirit that covers the soul and creates massive amounts of change in the world. Despite his longing to create a new paradigm in the African business sector he made wisdom an obsession like King Solomon.   

In a world where man is driven to an early grave through the quickening pace of technology and this self-indulgent way of life; there is much one must unlearn about how they process information that is widespread and disseminated at the speed of light. In order to see the light man must be able to go through seasons of darkness and truly unlearn what success, creativity, ingenuity, and imagination truly means. Aliko Dangote, as Africa’s richest man embodies what it means to stay the course. After more than 40 years of ups and downs in his corporate endeavors his established reputation for wisdom and integrity reins supreme in his life. God changes the times and seasons disposes some kings and raises up others, while giving wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. You can achieve anything you want in this life.

Success then comes as a process of following the patterns that have been laid out by the universe. You are in line of greatness that commands you to follow the tradition and reveal your greatness to the world. One of reasons why I symbolically compare Aliko Dangote to King Solomon has nothing to do with lifestyles but more so wisdom and the willing to invest in the Vision that God has put forth. The goal is to sacrifice your life for the next 10 generations. Work hard, be diligent, pursue excellence, work proactively, leverage debt, establish relationships, and play the long game while remaining patient. Below, I highlight five lessons from Aliko Dangote’s life that you can put into motion today and create a brighter future for all.  

Invest in Africa: Study to show thyself approved and learn about the rich history and empires that once dominated this planet. Investing in Africa is more than the minerals and precious metals that will never be depleted on this continent. It’s about studying your genealogy and investing in the wisdom that has been passed down from your ancestors.

See Money in its Truest Form: Money answers all things, but it can be used as a tool to do lots of good in the world. Utilize wealth, money, prosperity and paper currency as a means of exchange. Money can represent information, intellectual property, health, peace, love, joy and happiness. Make sure your context around money represents job creation and the building of generational wealth.   

Become a Master of International Trade: Mr. Dangote understood early on the importance of trade and sought to find ways to exchange one product for another. The psychology around International trading represents traveling, learning different languages, visiting different cultures, garnering a new understanding of the human language and being able to understand the language of Kingdom building.  

See Wisdom as a Source of Currency: The wisest man in Ancient times King Solomon made wisdom his top priority. He understood if he was ever going to effectively manage the resources at hand, he would need a greater perspective, blueprints, strategies and resources to make his dream become a reality. In the same light Mr. Dangote embodies this type of wisdom and has been placed in a position by God to converse with wise men, dignitaries, and foreign the world over. In just one generation (40 years), he has gone from a small trading hand to the richest man on the planet of Africa. Money answers all things but its wisdom that becomes the driving force.   

Diversify your Perspective & See through your Belief: Make it a habit to learn from the perspectives of others. Open your world to learn from different religions, cultures, ideologies, philosophies, contexts, ancient civilizations and just anything that helps you to understand the perspectives of others. Get outside of your comfort zone in terms of your thinking patterns. See the world through the belief that you are here to make a different which includes the help from all things concerning life.  

In the long run continue to move forward seeing beyond your current reality. The world is in a crisis of epic proportions and you support, ideas and recommendations are needed to bring about change. Allow the Solomon’s and Dangote’s of the world to give you the perspective of a King. Nurture your truth and watch it spring forth in ways you could only dream of.

The Psychology of Grit: Digging Deeper into the Education of Survival

In Black Psychology, grit represent this inner knowing, this spiritual depth that can only be exercised with powers outside of physical ability. It’s this underhanded grind that includes intelligence, perseverance, motivation, effort, and the passion to see the long game manifest itself in a new reality for the community. It’s this powerful force that cause’s the hunted to become the hunters. It’s what Johannes Kepler refers to as An unfailing experience of mundane events in harmony with the changes occurring in the heavens, that has instructed and compelled my unwilling belief.” The game and so has the rules. New Monopoly games boards are being created daily. It is in this belief that one must dig deeper into the education of survival. As heaven begins to send down its good and evil symbols, we as brilliant philosopher’s must act accordingly, and create 10,000 hours of focused efforts in order to close this new decade in (2030).

Learning the rules of the game strategically means synthesizing all of one’s experience and utilizing the gaps to present a narrative concerning the long game. Nelson Mandela’s subsequent imprisonment at Robben Island was the long game. It just happened to play out in a way that liberated a nation. Philosophically speaking every moment needs attention. I can’t help but to see how every thought, word, deed, circumstance and thinking process shapes the course of my destiny. As a Businessman I am beginning to understand the psychology of grit and how it can shape the narrative for future success. Information is at a record high in America and is doubling daily. It’s sort of turning the mind into this universal creative soul. These changes are causing the world to dig deeper and think long and hard about what direction to go in.

Global structures are crumbling, and the viruses are signs that changes are on the horizon. As, intellectuals we harbor the gifts that allows our greatness to manifest in unique ways. I am reminded of James Baldwin’s penchant for the arts and his travels to Paris as the backdrop for opening the creative formations of the mind. As a gravely misunderstood human being James Baldwin helps me to see the refined nature of grit, and how to bring these thoughts from the dungeons of hell to the mainstreams of intellectual suffering. Black Activism for Self-Education helps to reinforce the notion that the battle belongs to God and us. God’s role in the narrative of freedom presents itself as a byproduct of our willingness to fight the good fight of faith. The controls of life structured as forms and nuclear arrangements, in relation with the motions of the universe, is prompting us to rethink how the mind needs to be educated.

Knowledge that is found among the stars needs an interpreter to read its divine truths. We must make it up as we go along. Global business is changing rapidly and visionaries who can see around the corner are needed now than ever before. Too many books, programs, and falsified media representations, sells the true narrative short. All things are possible if you can see beyond the smokescreens of life things tend to become dangerous. Seeing things before they happen is very advantageous in the game of life. What is secret is sacred. Now, ideas become unlimited in your streams of consciousness, trends will start to make your rich and you will begin to reason as to why billionaires use financial astrologers. The question now becomes “How do I cross the bridge towards understanding the power of broke? Damon John’s philosophy about grit helps to prepare a place for your hustle to evolve. It places wealth as a spiritual journey towards learning how to appreciate the synthesis of every experience.

In the NBA grit is something that you can’t teach. You just go out and execute and make things happen outside of the norm. It’s this tenacity and will to exert your will over another opponent. I have been a fan of basketball of all my life and I can say that black athletes possess this knack for surviving even at the level of sport. Get out of your comfort zone, have faith in yourself and make yourself heard. Stop becoming a doormat to the incessant rumblings of fear. Unlearn everything you have been taught for the last 20 years. Shake things up and understand that your survival depends on the education you decide to harbor. Learning can be done in many forms and leads to the greatest transformation known to man, King Solomon, the wisest man that ever-lived asked God for wisdom to manage the affairs of his newfound Kingdom.

King Solomon understood that the universe is weird and unpredictable. The erratic nature of civilizations made a wise and learned man question all things. As CEO of Jerusalem, he understood the importance of turning unpredictable scenarios into goldmines. Success in the 21st century requires this same grit, spiritual connection and a deliberate focus on understanding the nature of existence. Don’t give up. Keep progressing forward.            

The RE-IMAGINED Door of No Return: Re-educating these Open Voyages and; Forthcoming Prodigies

Gorée Island (Off the Senegalese Coast in West Africa)

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history ~ Carter G. Woodson

My People perish for the lack of knowledge ~Hosea: 4:6

From the very first time I became aware of the jarring realities of the African American flight to the Caribbean, the America’s, Cuba & Haiti as slaves; I was angry, distraught, confused, astonished, baffled, and frantic at the nature of these communal breakdowns. Having been raised in the Apostolic faith I wasn’t exposed to the complexities and intellectual dimensions of the history and culture of a people who ran into a system of slavery that predated them thousands of years. It wasn’t enough for me to believe that somehow Africans were existing along the coasts of Africa, until Europeans decided that free labor would be the best course for American history. As Dr. Leonard Jeffries (Professor & Pan-Africanist) professed, “You can’t even understand blacks and the Atlantic slave trade unless you can see 1000 years of European slave trading”. The irony of this notion lies in the fact that leaders and learners of this new millennium must carry a sense of objectivity when it comes to educating the next generations. 

In terms of educating black and brown youth its important to teach narratives that lends its hand at understanding certain phenomena throughout history. Before teaching a class on the African Atlantic Slave trade wouldn’t it suffice to explain that the term slavery came from the word “Slav” indicating Indo-European people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group? It would not only disconnect slavery from the cultural context of African reality but place it in its rightful position as a European Phenomenon. Although, Europeans enslaved their own people for thousands of years (Dark Ages, Feudalism, Crusades, etc.) which caused them to flee Europe is a narrative that lends it hand at reeducating the important of the Atlantic Slave trade. It’s obvious that when the Europeans encountered Africans on the coasts of Africa, they were already in slave mode.

The Re-education of these Open Voyages & Forthcoming Prodigies extends its hand at a cross-cultural, ethical, and spiritual mythos. Its premise operates on a question proposed by James Hollis in his book “The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife” which asks, “how do I arrive at a working knowledge of my true self?”  James Hollis’ intention for this book reflects on addressing changes that takes place in the middle passages of life., and how one goes about redefining their views of life in relationship to oneself. In a similar lens I compare the “The Atlantic Slave Trade to our middle passage, and dark night of the soul for which we had to grapple with the stains of sin, an oppressor’s war like mentality and the mis-education of our roles as God’s. We must shed light on the importance of the bible as a center for reconciliation. The political theologies of liberation must highlight the importance of blacks in biblical antiquity.

We as educators and leaders in the black community need to reconcile with the fact that 2020 is the portal of global significance. You have the Election, Olympics, the Corona Virus, global change and disruption, social media, black on black crime, the tethering of the stock markets, broken educational systems and a world that is ushering in information at the speed of light. Knowledge of self amid these changing paradigms becomes increasingly important. It’s hard to arrive at such knowledge of self (Black History); if there isn’t a teacher to deconstruct and reconstruct a new theology towards bringing our historical lens into a 21st century focus. Imhotep may not carry a great significance in today’s age if his life’s narrative can’t motivate individuals to put down the guns in Chicago.

Although, the information is present it must be recreated out of our own need for self-realization. The mental disease that permeates in the black mind due to the infiltration of a system that is void of cultural relevance for black culture; is something that can be overcome through a sheer willingness to collaborate on the ideas that helps us to tell our stories of tragedy & triumph. As I listen to different podcasts notably (David Banner, Black Agenda Radio and In Black America) I am reminded of the importance for exposing the black mind to different perspectives. The prospect of exposing one’s mind to new levels of truth outside of the paradigm for which we know to be true, is something that takes time and lots of courage, Our stories are very unique and require a bit of reeducation as to how we can inspire generations to come.

In Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s new book Thinking Outside the Building, “How advanced leaders can change the world one smart innovation at a time”, speaks to reeducating the black community in terms of crushing the establishment paradigm that pushes innovation to the graveyard. It’s more of a metaphor for creativity. In my opinion this book represents the importance of utilizing innovative ways to teach black history outside of Lynching, reconstruction, & mass incarceration. We must place America in the greater context of civilization. As a country that has been independently free for the last 244 years this is just a drop in the bucket of civilization as we know it. The history of America is minuscule in comparison to the Kingdoms blacks ran for thousands of years.

Although, we as African Americans have lost our cultural knowledge and traditions, there is still hope for the generations to come. We are beginning to re-imagine the door of no return and redirect the belief that we represent the opposite of intellectualism. Beliefs can be hard to change even when facts prove scientifically that Blacks maintained empires thousands of years before Greece and Rome was ever established. We are awakening slowly and the revolution as Gil Heron Scott pronounced will not be televised. There is an internal burning of the black soul that is lifting the African American mind into great prominence. Here we come.  

Rethinking the Cohort of Black Education: The Shift towards an Educationist Approach to Teaching

Photo: Michael Paulsen: Raymond Johnson Rice’s first black student returns to teach

Melanin has never been enslaved. It Is doing what it has always done since the beginning of creation itself. ~Dr. Naim Akbar

As a lifelong learner and staunch advocate for education for the last twenty years I am beginning to see a new paradigm emerge with regards to education as a profession. I will be the first to admit that all ambitious graduates seeking to teach as a profession right out of college should rethink that proposition just a little. Find the means for understanding the greater responsibility that teaching entails. Start with removing the negative stereotypes and jargon that has led to seeing the education system as something as a low-paying profession. Teaching can become the highest paid profession if you treat it like one.

The impact can be felt generations from now versus a job that would only serve the interest of those who first put you in the predicament that you find yourself in now. It is becoming evident to me that educating black minds is something that needs the attention of Professionals, Educators, Entrepreneurs, Counselors, Builders, Doctors, Scientists, Opticians, Presidents, Librarians, Lawyers, Accountants, and any individual who desires to inspire the next generation of thinkers and leaders.  

African American graduates need to take a page of out of Raymond Johnson Rice’s first African American student to receive his Doctorate (1969) in Mathematics. Johnson says that being the first African-American at Rice and, later, the first African-American faculty member at the University of Maryland were secondary to his pursuit of mathematics. Although, Mr. Johnson by many standards would be considered a prodigy and genius, in time this will be the norm for the African Americans. If you can grasp the significance of these accomplishments, you will be able to see a visual representation of black excellence at its finest, something that can be used as the driving factor for calling black educators back into the profession of teaching.   

Strategically, Mr. Johnson throughout his pathway towards excellence faced challenges as any professional would but didn’t let that stop him from recruiting and retaining African-American students from historically black colleges and universities. He served as a mentor to 23 doctoral students, most of them African-American and many of them female; and  remained at Maryland for 40 years (with a two-year interlude at Howard University from 1976 to 1978 until returning to Rice in 2007. By any means necessary we must break the status quo and embrace our calling towards Academia, whether K-12 or Higher Education.  

African Americans need to come back to the profession of education and find the means for elevating the status quo of the teaching profession concerning people of color. These intellectuals must come back and help to spearhead institutions of learning that focuses on holistic Afrocentric curriculum that includes the arts, sciences and dance. Our communities need programs, ideas, innovation, strategies, think tanks, land, money, businesses, development and nourishment of the soul. Our communities need us, and they need us in a major way.

We need to create a narrative that promotes teachers as Rockstar’s. It’s true that many people jump in this profession without the right frame of mind and the correct set of tools. They sort of teach on a trial basis and if the experiences don’t live up to their expectations then would be inclined not to see teaching as a viable option. It’s a shame that one or two years of teaching can drive a stake for which makes some of our brightest minds leave the profession all together. Although, the technical capacity of education isn’t on the level of coding or engineering mainframes, it still carries much innovation and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

As an Educationist, who is self-motivated and undeterred freedom fighter who is not deterred by low pay, system constraints, or political minefields; leads the way towards advocating for the best interests of students. That could include policy reform, community activist, curriculum development, and think tanks. It’s this feeble notion about education is a calling and one for which revolutionaries and social scientists could create massive amounts of change even on the grassroots level. Teaching should be a vocation for which one feels called to make a difference in the lives of others, and not a secure and well to do path where a pension & steady $30k+ annual salary becomes the motivating factor.

I feel that the stigma surrounding the profession of education needs to be recreated, given we can establish our own schools of thought like Montessori, Piaget, Freud, and skinner. As Black Educators we need to develop our own African Professional Mythos – A shared set of images and ideals that can guide and inform all our various specializations and concentrations. Our innovative and futuristic minds can create the necessary foundations for developing an ethical curriculum. Curriculum models need an infusion of morality, cross-cultural communications, spirituality and the means for bringing Ancient African civilization to life.   

The Nature of the profession of education is one that needs men of color to invigorate the importance of teaching when it comes to educating the community. David Purpel explains that “All Educators must come to define their autonomy in relationship to these broader struggles rather than as a minor component of an existing bureaucratic apparatus”. The fight to educate and train the minds of Black America is bigger than the constraints that holds us back. In Kantian moral philosophy; this represents the capacity of an agent to act in accordance with objective morality rather than under the influence of desires. No longer should the system influence the minds of those who are free from unethical bureaucratic norms. Take a stand and do what you can to help create a moral stance towards celebrating the “Educationist” and making sure that you rethink the stance towards educating your community.  

The Spiritual & Moral Crisis of Education: A thesis of the Soul

All Real Education is the Architect of the Soul ` William Bennett

The greatest tragedy in America is the deconstruction and misappropriation of knowledge that provides fragile black minds with historical clarity and understanding of their lineage and place in world affairs. To isolate a young mind from such truth immediately cripples and his renders his self -esteem void of a balanced worldview. In this case it made sense as to why Blacks in America wasn’t allowed to read for hundreds of years upon their arrival into America. An Educated black class represented problems for the dominate society.  Although, slaves arrived much earlier than 1619 we see that two hundred years later in 1819 states were still prohibiting slaves to read and or write. Pockets of Black excellence infringed upon these policies and was able to educate themselves. Yet, these iniquitous beginnings served as a means for separating the black population from a general knowledge of its language, religion, dietary laws, spiritual ideologies and culture.    

Ancient Texts explain that no man puts new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish”. Despite the significance of this parable being able to conjure up multiple meanings; it spoke more to Slave owners withholding the historical linage of a captured people, in order to avoid slaver rebellions (Notably Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser & Denmark Vesey) and disobedience to the masters. A Biblical reference (Slaves obey your earthly masters) was also used in maintaining control and order among the ranks of enslaved Africans. James Baldwin explains that “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We *are* our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminal”. Baldwin speaks to the notion that blacks came to America as an extension of our former greatness which could never actually be cut off except for the withholding of spiritual traditions in lieu of Eurocentric religion.

It’s impossible to erase the spiritual nature of a people in lieu of a new set of rulers. Europeans tried their best to cut the noses off our spiritual monuments in Egypt because it spoke to the craftsmanship, wealth, creativity, and spiritual energy of a people. It spoke to African Spirituality. The death of a seed (Knowledge, Wisdom, & Understanding) is the burial of future generations of Artisans, Doctors, Lawyers, Painters, CEO’s, Presidents, Educators, Builders, Thinkers, Neurosurgeons, Bankers, Farmers and the like. Ancient African kingdom speaks to the reservoir of untapped potential that is trapped inside the soul of black folks as W.E.B. Dubois used to call it. A Spiritual and Moral crisis in education is more about matters of the mind, body and soul, rather than systemic changes in policies, and reform measures that do little to curb the inequality that persists in public education.   

In Hindsight, it’s the soul that truly suffers which can cause significant disruptions in the psychological, social and educational functioning of a young mind. The mills of the Gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. No one can escape the ramifications of withholding education from the minds of a people for two hundred years. Menander (342–292 B.C), says that the man who has never been flogged, has never been taught”. This parable has been traced back to “sparing the rod and spoiling the child”, but the overall narrative provides insight into the spiritual and moral crisis of an educational system that will not come to terms of its perpetuated injustices. The Achievement gap is no accident and dates back until the first-time slaves stepped foot in America. Fast-Forward 400 + years and you have tons of educated blacks who hasn’t been trained in the ways of his or her cultural significance.

Carter G. Woodson, American Historian, author, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH); in his world renown book “The Mis-Education of The Negro” highlights on Pg. 6 the sentiments of a mind trained do for others and despise the very greatness from which his original mind hails. “The Negro graduate has had little or no training at all. The people whom he has been ordered to serve have been belittled by his teachers to the extent that he can hardly find delight in undertaking what his education has led him to think is impossible”.  To drill in a young and feeble mind that his natural intelligence and genius is inferior to that of his peers k-12 presents a significant problem once that individual begins to venture out in the world and explore what’s possible concerning the gifts that God has place in him. 

Jack Lindsay, author of the Anatomy of the spirit “An Inquiry into the origins of Religious Emotion”, explains that “False associations of ideas, gaining a temperament of its own through the divisions and anxieties of social life, can develop in individual’s certain fantasies and emotions that profoundly affect his/her behavior”. If I am always learning about my heritage as second class to other races of the world then I will soon start taking on the nature of a person who never sees himself as a winner in the game of life. The ideology of a permanent underclass as way of life is gross negligence on behalf of the oppressor and or educational gatekeepers. Considering, the fact the certain curriculum lack information about the greatness of the black race explains the need for a “Thesis of the Soul” moment.

Those changes may come in small ways to begin with, but as you move further and further into the new, they will become more drastic and vital. Sometimes it needs a complete upheaval to bring about a new way of life.                                                              ~ Eileen Caddy

4 Concepts that will facilitate Student Learning in 2020

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think. –Margaret Mead

Power Concept: There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. Jiddu Krishnamurti

As low-test scores around the state of Kentucky starts to become a real issue, we must remind ourselves that education is a life long process of learning that will encompass a diverse array of teachers, philosophies, ideologies, lesson plans, field trips, sports and cultural experiences. K-12 isn’t the end in all be in all of learning for students in general and particularly students of color. From the moment we are born the educational process begins and as “Jiddu Krishnamurti” explains, doesn’t end until we leave this earth. Contrary to the “No child left behind act, school choice philosophy, charter ideologies and accountability measures in public education something isn’t adding up. Our children are beginning their sojourns in public education starting at K-5 and about the time they enter middle school they are either severely bored or just disengaged from the process of reading.

There is countless mentoring, fathering and adolescence programs that are available to help young men of color make a positive impact on themselves and in the community. We cannot dismiss the white and black & Hispanic teachers that are in the gaps fighting for our young men as well. As an educationist, activist, writer and change agent I represent those who are currently trapped and those who are being slowly filtered through the education bureaucratic system. These students need fathers and digital technologies that speaks their cultural language. Given, the faction of our digital technologies (i.e. block-chain, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality etc.), new opportunities and technological breakthroughs are beginning to emerge that is making outdated modes of teaching obsolete.

The collaborative vibration of this new digital age of disruption and transformation is beginning to open new levels of research concerning how students are learning regarding their social upbringing and aptitude. Kid prodigies like Elijah Precciely isn’t an anomaly. Trapped in every child of color lies a supreme creative energy of epic proportions. Educating children to become productive 40-year-old competent adults ought to be the goal. Getting children to read, graduate high-School then college isn’t enough. The entire educational model must become tailored around a generational concept that allows the education of one to become food for the great, great grandchildren to come. An all inclusive and progressive learning modality that speaks the culture of an individual, uplifts their spirit and produces the means for building moral and fundamentally sound American culture.        

Biggs and Tang (2007) identify the following principles for effective teaching based on research about student learning:

  • Create an appropriate motivational context, which includes meaningful activities, clear expectations about what is required of them and how they will be assessed, and a supportive learning environment in which students are able to explore and fail.
  • Build a well-structured knowledge base by engaging students’ prior knowledge so that they can assimilate new information in an organized way that relates to their existing knowledge.
  • Encourage active learning that includes communication and social interaction. Students should be encouraged to share, question, reflect on and challenge ideas to develop and advance their understanding.
  • Students learn better when they are aware of their own learning processes, the strategies they use, and continually monitor and reflect on their understanding.

Although, these concepts are being established for the University, I still find them to be relevant in terms of the process a teacher could use for engaging a student of color for which she may have little interest in doing. To facilitate the learning of these new age minds will require a more collaborative approach towards resisting the racism that exists in the field of education. The curriculum must be anti-racist and filled with ways to utilize todays transformative digital tools. Below, I highlight 5 concepts that will help facilitate student learning in 2020 outside of the methodologies that are currently producing wonderful results.  

Alpha Level: The probability that a statistical test will find significant differences between groups (or find significant predictors of the dependent variable), when in fact there are none.

  • Before you run any tests on black & brown children of color with the intent to place them in special education or to label them as learning deficient, make sure you test your own biases in terms of your ability to make right or wrong decisions concerning the intelligence of any child. Aptitude tests shouldn’t aid in facilitating the “School to Prison Pipeline” narrative.

Beliefs: ideas, doctrines, tenets, etc. that are accepted as true on grounds which are not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.

  • If any teacher in America believes that a child can’t learn should not be teaching at all. The rationale behind this concept is a notion called the “Belief Gap”, which is the gap between what students can achieve and what others believe that can achieve. Never allow your belief stand in the way of Advancing the Kingdom of America.

Educational Bias: A type of prejudice against a person, event, situation, or group.   

  • Teachers would do a better job of facilitating the learning of students if they don’t make test scores their Gods. In other words, don’t limit the time spent teaching a child who has difficulty understanding the subject matter, in lieu of students who are able to grasp subject matter quicker than others. On average African-America students score lower on standardize tests than their counterparts, or what is known as the Black-White test score gap. If this is the mindset and thought process of every teacher that faces a student of color; the child of color automatically is placed at a disadvantage in the minds of white women who operates as most public education teachers.  

Bracketing: A process used by researchers working within the Husserlian phenomenological tradition to identify their preconceived beliefs and opinions about the phenomenon under investigation in order to clarify how personal biases and experience might influence what is seen heard and reported.

  • If teachers would find a way to identify their preconceived notions and opinions about black and brown children of color, then they would be able to clarify the issues and why such manifestations are occurring. The idea here is for teachers to realize the effects of how their biases whether personal or otherwise is influencing children. Again, it’s more about the assessing of behaviors and why it’s impossible to escape the accountability that God places on the heart of teachers for growing the seeds of greatness that has been planted on the inside of children.

Facilitating the learning of our youth will require a group effort. It doesn’t matter about age, gender or race, it will take a village to raise the aspirations and IQ of these less fortunate children who come into the public education system with a staggering disadvantage. What can you do to help facilitate the learning of your students? Could you tweak your lesson plan a little in order to remove bias that you may see but won’t confront because of job security? We need your years of wisdom, intelligence and patience that you display daily in the pubic education system. Spread the word and help motivate the masses towards breaking the status quo.

Dispelling the Myth: Black Boys are not troublesome, inadequate & intellectually challenged but “GIFTED”

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors. ~ Maya Angelou

In the third grade I experienced one of the most unsettling experiences in my life. I got held back deceptively for no reason at all. I remember vividly getting suspended that year for one day. Thinking back, I had a two-parent home, lots of family support and a Christian upbringing, so my sense of disobedience concerning school rules was nonexistent. My mind was focused, and I carried a quick wit concerning mathematics, reading and all levels of comprehension. I was sharp as a button, yet I got held back and had to repeat third grade all over again and not because I was intellectually challenged or had behavioral problems. So, why did I get held back? I am sure there was more to the story or that I just didn’t meet the necessary requirements to move on to the fourth grade.

Back in the days you were sent home with the suspension letter or note stating the infraction and how many days you had gotten suspended. The school would call home and let your parents know what had happened, and since I had working parents, I had gotten lucky that day because they missed that phone call. I was afraid of getting in trouble and missing school at the same time. I wasn’t perfect by no stretch of the imagination, but I had messed up. I just couldn’t look my mom in the face and tell her I had gotten suspended. The scenario was super crazy. Here I am super nervous with butterflies in my stomach walking to school on this narrow road, acting as if I wasn’t suspended the previous day.

As a nine-year-old black kid these are things you would think should be going through his mind. Yet, its these and other prevailing thoughts that takes a back seat to the control mechanisms of the Prussian educational model that forces the young from his own thinking patterns towards a system that claims to have his/her best interest in mind. Failing third grade was the tightening of the standardization rope around my neck. It literally choked out my ability to think for myself. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, author of “The Mis-Education of the Negro” Explains that “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions”.

Carter G. Woodson’s reminds us that while its important to understand that Mis-educating males of color is mentally abusive to the trajectory of their future, but it also sends a strong message that the teachers that teach these males are active participants in the destruction o f their future. Had my parents fought back and demanded a political recount for my 3rd grade retention a different outcome would have ensued. Instead of rejecting the gifted nature of my being and inserting me into a specialized or gifted program that would nurture my unsettled mind and broaden my horizons.

The educational philosopher Robert M. Hutchinson stated that “Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible. Putting more low-income students of color (Black & Latino) into special education classes versus gifted and talented programs is more about a belief system than anything in my opinion. Up until the third grade most elementary students test out around the same measure. Although, I felt like I should have passed the 3rd grade, it was more about belief, bias, and racial stereotypes.

Fast forward 30 years and the public education system still is creating barriers for students of color to utilize their talents in advanced coursework or classes. In an article by edtrust.org titled “Inequities in Advanced Coursework” breaks down in great detail the alarming trends concerning why black and Latino students are being locked out of gifted and talented programs. Kayla Patrick, P-12 data and policy analyst explain that “advanced coursework opportunities can place students on the path toward college and career success”. Since, there is a bias that exists there needs to be a new policy for gifted program inclusion where adding Black or Latino students isn’t seen as taking away from the opportunities of white children or a threat to white privilege.

If you are an educator, activist, writer, education board member, parent or someone who runs a non-profit we need your help. It’s important that research, cross-cultural training and studies concerning the belief gap come to the forefront. It’s not an accident that racial and gender stereotypes dismantles the educational plight of black boys. As first mentioned, my suspension was part of a culture that expels black boys disproportionately at a higher clip than their counterparts. If black boys aren’t in school, they aren’t being given the opportunity to stay of task and make the most of gifted programs, for which no barrier should exist.   

Disruptive Dissolution: Commentary on the Re-imagined Achievement Gap Narrative.

Kentucky Education is in a state of despair, sinking back into time, in a slow plutonian death looking to become reborn. Hidden Agendas are being exposed and brought to the surface as the shackles must be broken through creative destruction.  ~Anonymous

With all the buzz surrounding the Achievement Gaps in the state of Kentucky, and those barriers (large class sizes, low expectations, inexperienced teachers, low income communities, & access to support services) that prohibit the closing of those gaps; why hasn’t anyone considered that these historically underserved students could benefit from a change in the structure of learning as it relates to Kentucky’s public educational model. 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) that was enact in 1990 when Wallace Wilkinson Abolished the state education agency; and progress since then has been moderate to say the least. At the core of these transformational renderings lies a moving system that hasn’t shifted from its original Prussian Model structure (training young men to be obedient Soldiers & teaching by year group versus ability). Let’s face it getting good grades doesn’t lead to career success like it used to. That system of governance is gone forever never to return.

Compulsory, top down education needs to change to reflect the growing narrative of children, that are being raised in different environments with different needs. There are thousands of ways to learn in the 21st century and because Educational officials understand this and still won’t create policy to reflect these astrological changes that is taking place in our world; which puts them and advocates like myself at odds with one another. Old habits are hard to break, and this standardized education system is one of those habits that needs to be broken. By all means keep the system in place for a select group that it benefits well and implement another concept that would create success within the minority populace. To those who are able to capture the underbelly of keeping a “Prussian Model” recognizes that the oppressor wants to continue to serve as the gatekeeper to the ruling class while trying to maintain their structures of power and authority. The world is rapidly advancing, and you can’t keep a model that doesn’t advance each and every child that visits its ranks.

Although standardization is seen as a tool of oppression that reinforces the “school to prison pipeline”; it doesn’t have to be. A system that teaches young minds how to think versus rote memorization tactics would further reinforce a social standard of a more ethical approach to education versus this highly controversial system of indoctrination. Carter G. Woodson’s classical read “Mis-Education of the Negro” sheds light on the ramifications that standardization has had on the African American mind. It’s a tough proposition to tell a young black mind that a system that wasn’t created for their success isn’t to blame for their poor performance. It then begins to create a distorted view of reality. Now, that this young African American boy and girl has realized that this system doesn’t fit there range of understanding and emotional perceptions they struggle to make sense of why such a system even exists. Children from a low-income community is learning how to survive outside of the collaborations of poverty and an oppressive educational system, which indicates a far superior intelligence if you ask me from those who circumstances are far superior.

There are eight million black children in the American public educational system that was not created, established or designed for their benefit, and will not aid them in reaching their higher potential. Yet, the belief is that our kids don’t measure up academically and that they are not capable to competing at the highest levels of academia. Our children should not be treated like a monolithic group and deserves educational approached that is culturally rich and actively enhancing their capacity to think in way that helps America to solve problems. Similar to active learning, African American students needs creative freedom to learn and engage in the educational process. Active Learning is nothing more than a means of engaging students with relevant materials, while they participate in classroom activities with a measure of collaboration. You can’t expect your students to simply listen and memorize anymore. The process must be more collaborative in nature with real-world situations.

Sometimes, we tend to overlook the group work as a means of hiding the so-called lazy student, or making the smart student do all the work. But, the fact of the matter is technology is revolutionizing how these groups work together. We must mind the gap and advocate for educational reforms that allows more experiential learning while at the same time creating a platform for learning what innovators are doing around the world. The social construct of our educational systems is dynamic and requires a new level of self-discovery and social change. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the curriculum that our children are being fed negatively impacts their mentality. On many levels the curriculum is devoid of self-pride, self-love and a concept of self that shifts the educational model from “No Child left behind” to a more isolated and bias agenda. The achievement gap is more about the self-discovery gap. Educating a child who doesn’t have a sense of self worth is like giving a 12 years keys to a Porsche which can only cause nothing but destruction.  

Caesar Chavez explained in his address to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 1984 that “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore”. Once the youth begins to awaken and discover the inherent value that they bring and that they will not longer be subject to curriculum standards that leads to underdevelopment of their mental state. No longer can Pharma and public education profit off of the minds of those who carry the potential to lift the American education system out of its lower tier status as compared to other countries of the world (i.e. Finland, Japan, South Korea, Denmark & Russia). When a system knowingly suppresses the social and economic mobility of its peers, inequality begins to rear its ugly head at the expense of the future of America.

As community leaders, administrators, legislators and parents we can no longer sit under the tree waiting for an apple to fall on our head to show us a better way. Trial and error must become a major staple in trying to figure out what will work and what will not. The Pritchard Committee highlighted in its Achievement Gap study Excellence with Equity: It’s Everybody’s Business that Bold Leadership, Improvements in School Climate & Culture to Support Students and Families, and Accountability in Ensuring Student Performance are great starting points towards helping to close the student achievement gap. It’s also nice to consider how Finland has turned their educational system around within the last 30+ years. Self-Discovery lies at the heart of the achievement gap as a moral and spiritual component of everyone’s evolution in this process.

Archibald Murphy, founder of public schools in North Carolina said in 1816 that “the state in the warmth of her affections and solicitude for the welfare must take charge of those children and place them in schools where their minds can be enlightened, and hearts can be trained to virtue”. Charter, parochial, private and public institutions of education isn’t the only contexts for which students ought to learn. The Board of education must remain open to the idea of allowing different methodologies and curriculum based on moral, ethical and Christian sentiments to come to the forefront. The vision to capture an “Equality of Opportunity” regardless of the social structures at play must become commonplace. We need social change and it must start with early education programs, patience, hands on learning and problem-solving initiatives.

Matt Ridley, author of “The Evolution of Everything” emphasizes education and explains that the real tragedy of nationalized education is how little innovation it has seen. Education is big business and of these national platforms (i.e. Khan Academy), non-profits and charter schools that support the vision somehow becomes of no use to the plight of those who suffer in the confines of a system that wasn’t created for the benefit of their mental liberation. Disruption now comes in the form of students as the teachers and digital platform that promote cross-cultural learning for the 21st century minds of our youth. It’s like engaging in “Critical Pedagogy” and social activism. The disruption must take into consideration the culture of a student and present novel ideas as to what could best suit the mind of that individual learning. The intelligence is their but how do we bring it to the forefront.   

The idea of Critical Pedagogy come from a methodology of education and social structures that combines concepts from critical theory and the study of culture. It is a concept that views teaching as a political act that emphasizes the importance of social justice and democracy, as tools for the emancipation from oppression through awakening a political and social lens for change. Under-served and oppressed youth need an education not only for the advancement of their communities and themselves, but also for others around the world who may be in the same situations. These students are open books looking for truth to fill their minds and not to be looked down upon based on their economic struggles.

In his seminal work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Paulo Freire explains that students are empty vessels waiting to be filled, and that they ought to be treated as co-creators of knowledge instead of on lookers who struggle to grasp simplistic meanings. Instead of showing up looking to fit into a model of education; these students ought to be collaborating with teachers in terms of the learning model that would best represent their level of understanding in a challenging and progressive manner.

When you live within the margins and rungs of a society that has been repressive to their mental state for more than 400 years, then the instruction you receive must include one that removes that sense of inferiority, addresses the psychological affects as it pertains to centuries of racism and discrimination, and the importance of black males as teachers in addition to role models. Students need instruction designed to promote the arts movement, music appreciation (Jazz, Afro-Cuban) and other cultural traditions. Although, many schools host “Heritage” night which is a gathering of different cultures and languages, foods and cultural appropriations, it’s still a far cry from truly opening up the dialogue for more curriculum designs that reflect the rich tradition and culture of each underserved and low-income group.

It’s important to think in terms of the group which would ultimately makes these students more competitive on a global scale. Disrupting the current sentiments surrounding the achievement gap one child at a time is a fair assessment, because we understand the importance of progression even at an incremental level. If we as educators, administrators, community leaders and laymen alike can see the importance of making sure these groups have the capital for basic human resource development, within their communal support structures then change can visit the doors of these school districts. In response to creating dialogue for solutions that are being proposed, lets continue to work hard to create access to such resources. As scholars in the fight for education reform it’s imperative that we keep digging into the narrative of why the gap even exists, and only offer solutions until we fully understand the problem at hand. 

Commentary on Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s thoughts on Public Education

The public school system is not an educational institution. You must distinguish between education and training. You can train a dog, you can train a seal, but once the dog learns how to think he will bite you and get away. But, if you train him to jump through loops, he will jump through loops. ~Dr. John Henrik Clarke

If the public school system is not an educational institution then what is it? What strange connotation can we bring in to describe the nature of a system that has repeatedly failed to live up to its standards and deliver on its promises? If we put learning and the minds of our youth to the side what’s left? Power? Dominion? Affluence? Why hasn’t education been taught from the perspective of power, dominion or affluence? Who wants to keep the educational system under its control?Why? What’s the upside of an educated & Liberated America?

Never mind to the fact that the American education power structure wants to hold on to that influence for as long as possible in order to maintain its affluence over the domain of education. But, is that a good idea considering nations of the world and their phenomenal educational prowess (i.e. Findland, Japan, Denmark Russia, Norway, etc.)? Having spent majority of my life in the American educational system I can say that there are some good moments and then you have your all-time worst bureaucratic red-tape moments, where black and brown children are being caught up in the polarization of a system that was never built for the minds of children of color.

Numbers, facts and statistics isn’t a good indicator for me to truly rationalize the public educational system as viable option in teaching the future minds of America let alone children of African-American descent. Again, changing any type of system will take time and there are no real easy fixes including (No child left behind act), which served as a standards based education reform. But, is it that important to create such a huge gap in the knowledge that is being disseminated? Although, It’s important to note that power and progress go hand in hand and one cannot exist without the other; there still must be a balance in all levels of power.

As the “no child left behind” program was another advancement in the development of power it failed to raise the education standards, for which could create equal regulation across the board. Now, homeschooling, online school, charter schooling and all other types of non-traditional schools are beginning to sprout up in place of a system that is hell bent on destroying the power of a freethinking mind. Teaching a young and feeble mind what to think verses how to think is the crux on his article. Dr. Henrik Clarke explains that education is a Multi-billion dollar industry which is funded in part by the controlling of the minds of our youth.

Let’s face it. It is difficult on any level to educate the people in whom you are seeing as a threat to your standard and way of existence. It’s just a hierarchical system that is poised to keep the bottom as a low-level thinking class of patrons for the sole benefit of power, affluence and dominion among the higher echelon’s of society. In Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” it mentions that ” All states and dominions which hold or have held sway over mankind are either republics or monarchies. Although, America is a republican “for the people” ideology it is actually a private entity tailored for the very few. Although, a growing knowledge gap exists in America’s educational system its still important to find common ground surrounding why our educational system is getting worse and not better.

As a final thought, I would like to say that a public educational system should be viewed as something with invisible controls behind the scene. As a parent to two children that is currently in the public education system, I am having to work overtime to fight against those mental blocks that secretly bombard the potential of my children. I teach them how to think verses what to think. The process has been a slow and deliberate journey but they are able to think beyond a good grade. They are getting trained to work in the family business instead of Higher-Education’s family business. (i.e. corporate america & prison).