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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 8: It takes a village: Highlighting the indispensability and strength of the three-fold cord


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It takes a village

Highlighting the indispensability and strength of the three-fold cord

Our goal at the MAN UP program was to create a reciprocal caring community by constructing a three-fold cord consisting of the students, their parents/guardians, and us, the MAN UP instructional staff. Parental involvement is important for all students; and, this is especially true for hyper-marginalized Black boys that are often tasked with navigating educational spaces that think less of their ability, aptitude, and perceived intelligence (Mahiri & Sims, 2016; Vakil, 2014). What is more, a disproportionate number of Black children live in households that are both low-income and single-parent. These households also feature caretakers with lower than average levels of educational attainment who are disproportionately unemployed as a result. These realities delimit Black parents’ ability to advocate for their students. Not because they are incapable of doing so, but, because often the schools that their children attend are not as attentive to their needs and in some cases the schools are resistant to and hostile towards the advocacy of Black parents—especially poor, “uneducated” Black parents (Noguera, 2008). According to Johnson (2010), many Black parents have been made to feel as though they are not equipped to effectively advocate for their students because of the condescending treatment they receive from school officials. And, for single parents there is a confluence of limitations for effective advocacy: they may feel dismissed and because they are...

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