Toward a pedagogy of Black livingness: Black students’ creative multimodal renderings of resistance to anti-Blackness

2021 ◽  
Vol ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print) ◽  
Autumn A. Griffin ◽  
Jennifer D. Turner

Purpose Historically, literacy education and research have been dominated by white supremacist narratives that marginalize and deficitize the literate practices of Black students. As anti-Blackness proliferates in US schools, Black youth suffer social, psychological, intellectual, and physical traumas. Despite relentless attacks of anti-Blackness, Black youth fight valiantly through a range of creative outlets, including multimodal compositions, that enable them to move beyond negative stereotypes, maintain their creativity, and manifest the present and future lives they desire and so deeply deserve. Design/methodology/approach This study aims to answer the question “How do Black students' multimodal renderings demonstrate creativity and love in ways that disrupt anti-Blackness?” The authors critically examine four multimodal compositions created by Black elementary and middle school students to understand how Black youth author a more racially just society and envision self-determined, joyful futures. The authors take up Black Livingness as a theoretical framework and use visual methodologies to analyze themes of Black life, love and hope in the young people’s multimodal renderings. Findings The findings suggest that Black youth creatively compose multimodal renderings that are humanizing, allowing their thoughts, feelings and experiences to guide their critiques of the present world and envision new personal and societal futures. The authors conclude with a theorization of a Black Livingness Pedagogy that centers care for Black youth. Originality/value Recognizing that “the creation and use of images [is] a practice of decolonizing methodology” (Brown, 2013, loc. 2323), the authors examine Black student-created multimodal compositional practices to understand how Black youth author a more racially just society and envision self-determined, joyful futures.

2019 ◽  
Vol 44 (4) ◽  
pp. 373-398
Carl James

Studies of Black students’ schooling experiences and educational outcomes have consistently shown that compared to their peers, they – especially males – tend to underperform academically, be more athletically engaged, and be streamed into non-academic educational programs. These studies tend to focus on high school students, but what of middle school students: is the situation any different? Using a combination of critical race theory and positioning theory, this article presents the results of a 2018 focus group of middle school male students residing in an outer suburb of the Greater Toronto Area. The findings reveal how the nine participants positioned themselves, and were positioned by their teachers, for an education that would enable them to enter high school and become academically successful. Some participants felt that teachers had constructs of them as underperformers, athletes, and troublemakers; others believed teachers saw them as ‘regular students’ and treated them accordingly by supporting their academic and extracurricular activities. How these students read educators’ perceptions of them informed their positioning responses: some adjusted and others resisted. Our findings highlight the urgent need to support Black students in culturally relevant ways during the transition schooling years so that they enter high school ready to meet the social, academic, and pedagogical challenges they will face, graduate, and realize their post high school ambitions.

2016 ◽  
Vol 15 (3) ◽  
pp. 430-449
Rob Simon ◽  
Sarah Evis ◽  
Ty Walkland ◽  
Amir Kalan ◽  
Pamela Baer

Purpose This paper features artwork and artists’ statements by middle school students who participated in a research collaboration that involved co-authoring critical literacy curriculum for Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus: A Survivors Tale (1986) with teacher candidates from the University of Toronto. Design/methodology/approach Youth explored personal and social justice issues through writing and artwork produced in response to Maus. In the process, they navigated what historian Dominick LaCapra (1998) has referred to as the “delicate relationship between empathy and critical distance” (pp. 4-5), between closely identifying with the agonizing experiences Spiegelman documents and using their inquiries to cultivate more critical positionalities and assume activist stances on historical and contemporary social justice issues. Findings As they describe in their brief statements included alongside their artwork, creating these projects allowed youth to bear witness to a terrible moment in human history and to envision how they can make a difference in their own communities. Originality/value This work suggests how the arts can be mobilized in critical literacy as a vehicle to interrogate difficult historical moments and multifaceted identity issues.

2016 ◽  
Vol 15 (3) ◽  
pp. 394-410
H. Bernard Hall

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the ways in which hip-hop pedagogies and literacies encouraged middle school students to explore performance poetry as a tool to “(w)right” the truth(s) about learning and living in their local and global communities. Design/methodology/approach Collaborative self-study research methodologies were used by the author, a black male teacher educator and hip-hop cultural insider, along with two white, female reading specialists and hip-hop cultural outsiders, to collect and analyze the practices and behaviors used in The Shop – an after-school hip-hop-based spoken word poetry club for middle school students in a small, urban public school district in Northeastern USA. Findings Three primary findings emerge: teachers with limited cultural and content knowledge of hip-hop may struggle to negotiate real and perceived curricular constraints associated with using pedagogies with hip-hop texts and aesthetics in traditional school contexts, the intersections of teachers’ racial, cultural and gender identities informed the respective practices and behaviors in a number of interesting ways, and using hip-hop pedagogies for social justice in public schools requires a delicate balance of both transparency and discretion on the part of teachers. Originality/value Study findings are salient for in- and pre-service English teachers and English educators, as they offer insights and reflections on the instructional and relational challenges cultural outsiders may face when using hip-hop culture to create spaces and opportunities for young people to talk back and speak truth to power.

2018 ◽  
Vol 13 (1) ◽  
pp. 31-45
Sarah Elizabeth Montgomery ◽  
Zak K. Montgomery ◽  
Sarah Vander Zanden ◽  
Ashley Jorgensen ◽  
Mirsa Rudic

Purpose The concept of an American Dream was interrogated during a service-learning partnership between university students and a multilingual, racially diverse class of sixth graders. The one-on-one service-learning partnerships were at the heart of the semester-long project and sought horizontalidad, or non-authoritarian democratic communication and shared knowledge creation. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach This project leveraged the arts and humanities within the context of social studies education to promote youth civic engagement. This project used Photovoice methodology in which all participants took photos and wrote about their American Dream. Participants then shared their photography and writing at three public gallery events in the community in an effort to educate others about their perspectives, experiences, and hopes regarding the American Dream. Findings Findings from the reciprocally minded partnership centered on the sixth-grade students taking a collective approach to the American Dream. Specifically, they noted their commitment to their families and desire to support others, with some sixth graders even sharing a commitment to promoting social justice. Some participants demonstrated a “we consciousness,” or a collective approach to social justice. Originality/value The study provides insights into how educators can engage middle school students in democratic practice as active citizens in a service-learning partnership. Through a service-learning themed project about the American Dream, middle school students were able to share their voices and experiences with the larger community via a project rooted in horizontalidad.

2018 ◽  
Vol 120 (8) ◽  
pp. 1807-1831 ◽  
Maria Teresa Kowalewska ◽  
Anna Kołłajtis-Dołowy

Purpose According to a study by European Commission, 88m tons of food waste are generated per year, of which 46.5m tons are wasted by households. Households still remain the main source of food waste (53 percent). The purpose of this paper is to estimate households’ food waste and wastage-related losses of energy and nutrients among middle school students as well as assess educational intervention regarding food waste prevention. Design/methodology/approach The study included 555 students from 11 schools in Poland. The study was conducted using the survey questionnaire and the three-day record of food waste. The interventional group filled a questionnaire before and after of education as well as after three months of intervention. Findings Students waste 23 g of food per day. The most wasted products are: potatoes, bread, fruits and vegetable as well as meet and ham. Energy losses from leftovers are less than 1–10 percent. Losses of nutritional value along with wastages were the highest for vitamin C, but also for dietary fiber, potassium and folate. Food waste education was nearly twice as strong in study group with films intervention, than those who received only a leaflet for parents. Research limitations/implications Middle school students are responsible for households’ food waste and contribute to energy and nutrition losses. Educational intervention is more effective, while using multimedia methods and need to be continued. Practical implications The paper is a scientific study and addressed to the scientific audience. However, due to the problem of households’ food waste, general public could be also interested. Social implications Food waste is an element of waste management. Studying the scale of food waste and waste related behavior can help to better understand causes of food waste. The search for ways to limit food waste, through education address to young people, can be an effective method of prevention of waste. The UN has established 17 new development goals for the years 2015–2030 (United Nations, 2015). One of them (Goal 12) is focused on ensuring sustainable consumption and production. It means halving food waste at the retail and consumer levels and food losses at the production and post-harvest stages by 2030. Originality/value There are few publications available about food waste including energy and nutrients waste. This study shows the scale of household waste, the quantity and type of wasted products and causes of disposal. Also, the way of handling with food waste at homes was examined. It is also important to draw attention to the responsibility of young people in wasting food, which was examined in the paper.

2017 ◽  
Vol 11 (3) ◽  
pp. 224-234 ◽  
Leisa A. Martin

Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine middle school students’ citizenship behavior. Design/methodology/approach The study involved an open-ended survey. Findings In a previous study, when asked about citizenship, youth typically emphasized the importance of helping others. However, in this study, a different pattern of citizenship behavior emerged. Overall, 30 per cent of youth discussed personally responsible citizenship, 27 per cent emphasized disengaged citizenship, 25 per cent focused on personal development citizenship and only 3 per cent embraced patriotic citizenship. In addition, ethnic differences occurred. Among the Mohawk students, disengaged citizenship was the most popular form of citizenship. This finding contradicts the previous study on southwestern middle school Native Americans, who emphasized personally responsible citizenship. Research limitations/implications This study was limited to students in the northeastern USA, and the results cannot be generalized to all middle school students. Originality/value Compared to previous research, the students expressed a different attitude about civic engagement. Among the Native American students, disengaged citizenship was the most common expression of citizenship. In addition, the middle school students’ very limited interest in patriotic citizenship (3.70 per cent) suggests that a strong interest in patriotism during the US Civil War may be more of the past than their present. Although attitudes about citizenship are changing, by understanding students’ perceptions about citizenship, citizenship education curriculum can be recalibrated to better meet the needs of students in the twenty-first century.

Ingrid Mitchell ◽  
Nicolae Nistor ◽  
Beate Baltes ◽  
Michelle Brown

Black middle school students in the United States continue to perform poorly on standardized reading achievement tests in comparison to other racial and ethnic groups. The purpose of this research study was to examine the effectiveness of a vocabulary-focused test preparation program for Black middle school students. The theoretical framework consisted of Thorndike’s concept of test-wiseness, a test-taking capacity. Teachers at the research site were trained on Larry Bell’s 12 Powerful Words strategy that aims to make students test-wise, that is, to familiarize them with key vocabulary terms related to tests. An intact-group comparison was conducted, involving a total of N = 679 Black students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 with 370 girls and 309 boys. An analysis of covariance showed significant effects for Grade 6, marginally significant effects for Grade 7, and nonsignificant effects for Grade 8. These findings suggest that the 12 Powerful Words are effective and that their effect decreases with students’ age. As a practical consequence, instructional leaders will be able to make more informed decisions regarding test preparation and potentially reduce the number of underperforming students in classrooms.

2021 ◽  
Vol ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print) ◽  
Meghan E. Barnes ◽  
Heather Coffey

Purpose The purpose of this study is to inquire into the effectiveness of authentic writing instruction embedded in a critical service-learning project in a middle school English Language Arts curriculum. Design/methodology/approach This paper analyzes middle school students’ survey responses before and after their participation in a critical service-learning project designed to engage students in authentic writing. Specifically, the paper considers students’ perspectives of community and writing as a result of their participation in the project. Findings Participants’ perspectives fell into three categories: audience influence, empowerment or personal knowledge to act and confidence in ideas. Originality/value These perspectives suggest a deviation from common findings regarding the benefits of authentic writing instruction, as the presence of an audience in this study often hindered student confidence in their abilities as writers and community change agents. Authors draw from the findings to offer recommendations to support teachers in effectively incorporating authentic writing practices and audiences into their instruction.

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