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You Can't Teach Us if You Don't Know Us and Care About Us

Becoming an Ubuntu, Responsive and Responsible Urban Teacher


Omiunota Nelly Ukpokodu

This book addresses the needs of diverse urban students for a new kind of teacher, classroom learning context, curriculum, and pedagogy in order to effectively learn, perform, and achieve. Drawing on the African concept of Ubuntu as a fundamental framework for enacting a humanizing pedagogy, the text invites teachers, students, and families to enter into an interdependent and interconnected relationship for education. This book is uniquely transformative as it elevates the centrality of student humanity and models the integration of emergent theories and practices, utilizing real-life stories to enlighten and illuminate. Emphasis is placed on Ubuntu pedagogy as a model to emulate, anchored on five ethical dimensions: humanism and Ubuntu competence, relationship and learning community, humanism in the curriculum, pedagogical and instructional excellence, and collaboration and partnership. Particularly valuable for teachers learning to cultivate the spirit of Ubuntu that undergirds their ability to be humane, responsive, socially- just, efficacious, and resilient, this book is a cutting-edge resource for effectively addressing the persistent academic achievement of diverse urban students.

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Chapter 3. Ethic of Relationship and Learning Community


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Chapter Overview

Studies have described the traditional classroom structure as unresponsive, dehumanizing, and detrimental to urban students’ effective learning and academic achievement. This chapter addresses the following questions: Do urban students need a different kind of relationship and learning environment in order to effectively learn and perform? How do teachers build humanizing relationships with students, among students, and with parents/families? How do teachers build a humanizing learning community where students thrive academically and are culturally and civically competent? The chapter examines the four A’s of a teacher’s love and includes a discussion of strategies for enacting Ubuntu relationship and a learning community.

Relationship Matters

Mr. Taiko (pseudonym), a European American teaching fellow, was enrolled in my diversity course several years ago. He is a middle-aged career-changer who had worked in the corporate world for 10 years before becoming a teacher. I first met Mr. Taiko when I conducted a three-day workshop on cultural diversity at the school district-university partnership summer institute for the Kansas City Teaching Fellows (KCTF) program. In his self-introduction ← 81 | 82 → write-up for my course, Mr. Taiko mentioned that though he had a good position and an annual six-figure salary, he felt unfulfilled and saw teaching in the inner-city school as an opportunity to make a difference. Mr. Taiko came to my attention when he relentlessly and harshly challenged the perspectives and strategies I facilitated during the workshop. Although he...

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