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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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Acknowledgements

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With much gratitude and respect, I acknowledge the MAN UP educational team: Professor Jabari Mahiri, who graciously volunteered his time to work with the MAN UP instructional team with pedagogical considerations as well as overall, programmatic components. We were a group of graduate students with varying levels of experience in program development; however, this particular task was larger than anything we had endeavored to develop on our own. Professor Mahiri, your guidance, experience, expertise—your presence in our planning meetings or on site gave us the confidence to move forward into what was uncharted territory. I also acknowledge the MAN UP instructional team. Kenyatta Weathersby, my brother, you were our rock. Your experience as a professional teacher and your loving-concern for the young men that this program served were invaluable. Now you’re at the helm, bro, and I have every confidence that you will continue to push toward the vision we all created. To my brother, soon to be Dr. Sepehr Vakil, an engineer by training and an activist at heart, you are the instantiation of the work that we were endeavoring to do: to raise up socially-conscious, committed, applied STEM practitioners. You constantly challenged me in the best way possible to reflect on and iterate my pedagogy. I’m eternally grateful. This is just the beginning. My brother, Pierre, your contribution and your spirit, not to mention your educational and technical expertise were invaluable. To Jarvis, ← xxiii | xxiv → I cannot thank you enough for the mentorship you provided...

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