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Revolutionary STEM Education

Critical-Reality Pedagogy and Social Justice in STEM for Black Males

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Jeremiah J. Sims

Revolutionary STEM Education: Critical-Reality Pedagogy and Social Justice in STEM for Black Males by Jeremiah J. Sims, an educator, researcher, and administrator from Richmond, California, is calling for a revolutionary, paradigm shift in the STEM education of and for Black boys. STEM education has been reliant on axioms and purported facts that for far too long have been delivered in a banking or absorption model that is, arguably, anti-critical. Unsurprisingly, this pedagogical approach to STEM education has failed large segments of students; and, this is especially true of African American males. Revolutionary STEM Education highlights, chronicles, and investigates the potential inroads and vistas of a Saturday Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, Male Aptitudes Nurtured for Unlimited Potential (MAN UP), which was designed to foster interest and competence in STEM by middle school Black boys. This program was impelled by a critical-reality based pedagogical approach, which was formulated to arrive at socio-academic synergy, that is, a thoughtful conjoining of students’ real life concerns, joys, ways of being, and socio-cultural identities and the curricular material covered in the courses offered at MAN UP.

Sims’ lived-experiences as an inner-city, low-income Black male are interspersed throughout Revolutionary STEM Education; however, the heartbeat of this book is, undoubtedly, the stories of the positive transformation that the MAN UP scholars experienced while becoming more competent in STEM, developing positive STEM identities, and learning to use their STEM knowledge for social justice.

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Final consideration (Epilogue)

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Finally, it seems that the “struggle” always ends at equality, and never harmonious distinction. Seemingly, only uniformity can usher in harmony. This is the implicit argument for standardization. And, in this case the standard is a Europocentric, patriarchal, heteronormative aesthetic that values ways of being, thinking, and acting that are commensurate with, derived from, and supportive of whiteness. For proponents of this view, only standardization can bridge the “unbridgeable” gap that exists between African Americans and Whites. Consequently, equality becomes a kind of indeterminate purgatory, an “unrealizable” nowhere (Sartre, 1964). This is precisely because equality in this context is the working out of the Melting Pot ideal. We have to realize that Blacks will no more be equal to Whites than Whites to Blacks, not culturally at least. This is not a negative, because if we were all to be made “equal” then all cultural differences and distinctions must be abrogated. There would be no room for multiculturalism, for multi-voicedness; on the contrary, we would all be amalgamated into one amorphous people, with the dominant culture free to determine what is and what is not normative. Uniformity is not a synonym for equity, peace, or social justice. We must remember this: we don’t have to all speak the same, standard, distinctly Eurocentric language to be “equals”; instead, we must work for an equality that does not devalue cultural difference in favor of the dominant class (Freire, 1997). ← 185 | 186 → Rather, educators must work towards a more dialogic, multi-vocal,...

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