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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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Chapter 4: Changing the game: The role of critical contextualization and socio-academic synergy in developing STEM identities

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Changing the game

The role of critical contextualization and socio-academic synergy in developing STEM identities

STEM education has been reliant on axioms and purported facts that 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 Black males. This study investigated the potential inroads and vistas of a Saturday Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, Male Aptitudes Nurtured for Unlimited Potential (MAN UP), designed to foster interest and competence in STEM subjects by middle school Black males. Critical pedagogical perspectives were central to the program’s design and implementation as was the intent to increase their STEM competency in conjunction with developing STEM identities that are informed by social justice perspectives. Data collection covered the implementation of this program with first year MAN UP students for two or three Saturdays per month for a full academic year. Data included pre and post and focus group interviews with the entire first year cohort, participant observation in a focal class, classroom observations of the cohort’s two additional STEM classes, video tapes of cohort students’ project presentations, their online reflective journals, as well as interviews with their STEM instructors along with the instructors’ online learning designs and reflections. This study significantly illuminates and documents viable approaches to increasing the interest in, competence with, and potential for socially just...

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