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Revolutionary STEM Education

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


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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Chapter 1: Male aptitudes nurtured for unlimited potential


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Male aptitudes nurtured for unlimited potential

I grew up in the inner city. The fierce poetry of the late great 2Pac (Tupac Amaru Shakur), melodically juxtaposed with rhythmic beat after beat, was the score from my personal educational screenplay from high school into my early twenties. Even after his premature death, his music lived on constantly inflecting and infracting the mise-en-scene of my personal motion picture. One song resonated with me for much of my young adult life because it served as a homage to the sometimes-perilous realities of my life growing up in the inner city: I See Death around the Corner. In retrospect, I know why this song resonates with me: it painfully captures my psychosocial reality growing up as a Black male ensconced within a violent, unforgiving environment that was absent easily accessible levers for upward mobility and positive role models to emulate. I had no aspirations precisely because I had come to believe the purported reality that, as a Black male in the inner city, I was on borrowed time. What I know now is that I was suffering through Persistent Traumatic Stress. I am not yet willing to say that I was or am suffering through a disorder; maybe it is my pride. And, in reality, I truly believe in the power of holistic spiritual healing. However, what I can say, looking back, is that I had internalized the statistics that were rampant during...

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