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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 7: Love conquers fear: The efficacy of critical-reality pedagogy at MAN UP

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Love conquers fear

The efficacy of critical-reality pedagogy at MAN UP

To discuss and further amplify these findings, this chapter will assess the pedagogical atmosphere that characterized this program and how it created a nutritive educational space that afforded the focal participants the opportunity to become applied STEM practitioners by critically contextualizing STEM. In researching programs that were STEM focused that also served middle school Black males, the first noteworthy finding was that in area that MAN UP was housed, which has one of the highest absolute numbers of Black males on the West Coast in the feeder school district, there were no other programs exclusively for this group that were in anyway STEM based even though the hub for technological advancement, Silicon Valley, is not all that far away. There were, however, several programs for Black males that work to connect them to their history through the arts. So, from the onset this program was different. What made it even more innovative and, perhaps, even more rigorous was its focus on issues that inhere around social justice. There were programs in the general vicinity of MAN UP that focused on social or restorative justice; however, not one of these programs sought to develop an intersection between STEM and social justice. Another aspect of MAN UP that made it innovative was the pedagogical approach, which centered critical-reality pedagogy. This approach was necessary to facilitate the focal cohort’s...

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