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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 6: STEM for good: Creating socio-academic synergy for the development of socially just applications of STEM

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6

 

STEM for good

Creating socio-academic synergy for the development of socially just applications of STEM

For whatever reason, the lunch room at MAN UP seemed heavy. Granted, it was what was at that time a rare rainy day in the East Bay Area (because we had been mired in a year’s long drought). But, the lunch room was dark. It felt humid and morose. This was aberrational, because whenever the MAN UP scholars entered this room—and every other room—they did so with a mix of boisterous and cacophonous aplomb. This day was different. Mr. K, Mr. S and I recognized the seeming melancholy right away. We had already spent between six months to two years with these dynamic young men; we could tell individually and collectively that something was in the air. So, we decided to forgo lesson plans and just talk. One young man, Malcolm, volunteered that he was struggling because his father, seemingly out of nowhere, decided to challenge his mother for custody. Malcolm told us that while he and his father were on good terms, he did not want to leave his mom. He also told us that he told the judge hearing his case that he did not want to miss MAN UP. (The issue at hand was bi-monthly weekend visitation.) We had incredible input from committed, caring MAN UP fathers; however, these men were the exception—not the rule. We...

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