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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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Do it for the culture

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I am writing this book for my neighborhood, for my community, even for my entire demographic. I grew up in Richmond, California. I grew up amidst career drug dealers, hookers, gang-bangers and pimps. I was able to extricate myself from those negative influences because I held fast to my belief in the value of education, and because in spite of the overall toxicity of my environment, there were people who cared for me and guided me. To this day, sadly, I am one of few males from my neighborhood that has gone on to graduate from college. My mom raised my younger brother and me all by herself. My brother and I have different fathers; my mom and my father were never married. He was not in the picture.

“Fast Eddie”, which is what I knew him by, was a career criminal. Still, we got along okay—when he came around. When I spent time with him, because my mom was working, I saw all types of things that someone my age should not have been exposed to: I saw my father shoot Heroin into his veins; I also got a glimpse of the 80’s drug trade first hand watching him sell pounds of weed to assorted buyers. Fast Eddie disappeared from my life altogether when I was 12, up until that point I would see him every two months or so. It turns out he started robbing banks, 15 banks in fact. I did not...

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