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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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Michael Gurian

Karen Meadows is a dynamo of energy and acumen. As she gathered these stories, she had a vision in mind: to link the power of personal narrative with the strength of the human spirit. Pedagogy of Survival has emerged from that vision, and I am grateful for it. I know you will be, too. As I read the narratives and counternarratives in this book, I find myself reflecting on issues of personal responsibility and expanding my vision on many points of view in an area of life too minimally studied thus far, the social and human agency of adolescents and young adults who comprised a powerful cadre of desegregation pioneers in the 1950s and 1960s.

These were survivors and their lives developed pedagogy at inchoate levels. Dr. Meadows shows us these internalized methodologies through her inclusion of (1) the Story, (2) the Trauma, and (3) the Pedagogy of Survival. Through their eyes and lenses, we understand and address ongoing educational discourses concerning academic and disciplinary disproportionality in our public schools. The interviews with Harvey B. Gantt, Dr. Larry Canady, and Kristina Frazier, in particular, reveal diverse ways in which an individual models and teaches his or her own method of survival.

Our adolescents today—especially those locked in melancholy and violence—hunger for these models. As adolescent life becomes more dis ← xv | xvi → tended in the new millennium for many youth and, for some, more truncated by early death, the...

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