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Pedagogy of Survival

The Narratives of Millicent E. Brown and Josephine Boyd Bradley


Karen Meadows

With particular focus on the first-hand narratives of two desegregation pioneers—their stories, sufferings, and pedagogy of survival—this book gives voice to unsung heroes and the often overlooked view of the adolescent perspective to address the question of how one can endure and thrive in the midst of hardship and tragedy. While enduring her own personal trauma, the author wrestled with the question, “How will I survive?” The answer, she discovered, was in the actual act of surviving and in the navigational strategies she employed and witnessed in the lives of others. In Pedagogy of Survival, the author uses the narratives of ordinary people to highlight extraordinary lessons of perseverance. The integration of historical and present-day change agents challenges readers to examine their own lives and see that they, too, have the ability to not merely withstand trials, but to become agents of change. Everyone has a story that matters and can serve as a lesson for someone else. So what is your story? How will you use it to help others? Ultimately, what is your pedagogy of survival?
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Chapter 3. Pedagogy of Survival: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Lessons


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Ordinary People with Extraordinary Lessons

Everyone has a story, an experience or experiences, successes, and failures that serve as tools for teaching and helping someone else. Your perception of success or failure, succumbing to or prevailing over an experience is not the overall point. The lessons lie in how you navigated your circumstances, your thinking behind specific actions, the factors that influenced your behavior, and your belief—or even your disbelief—that you would be able to endure. Familial, cultural, and societal factors may have influenced, helped, or even hindered you. All of these variables make up one’s lived experience. Your story, like the narratives in this book, carries with it strategies that will help or encourage others, all which serve as your pedagogy of survival.

Many of us when sharing our story truncate our experience by disclosing only its outcomes, failing to share how we journeyed through a given situation. We often negate the doubts and fears we bore at the time or the self-motivation and perseverance required to survive events in our life. In a recent parent session, my opening activity required participants to identify a person who influenced their lives, someone who helped shape who they are today. The purpose behind the activity was first to support parents in opening up during the session and second to help them think about who may be currently influencing their child’s life. The parents not only shared openly,...

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