Sunday, April 26, 2009

Identities Misapplied

Back again
Land once occupied.
Unable to relive experiences,
nostalgic desires demanded fulfillment.
And grayer they became
by the amount of snow I’d seen fall;
the various coats worn to keep warm

Clouds no longer had shapes
Blinded stares of men and women I’d once met
The beach no longer glared the translucent stories of its depths
Artificial the earth felt,
as if I was standing on top of an extinct plant specie.
Reality and illusion intertwined.
Past and present merging into one.

Where is my homeland, I say?
Uprooted so young, is this fair?
Engulfed in wrath with identities misapplied,
but rightly learned within the foreign home.
An ironic destiny, she Zig Zag Zigs.
She is not just from one piece,
but of the whole.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Teaching Philosophy (Part 2)

Knowledge of Self: Knowing Your Roots

Lost-Found Lesson #2 1-40

14. Who is the 85%?
Answer: They are the uncivilized people, poison animal eaters, slaves of a mental death and power. People who do not know who the true and living God is or their origin in this world and worship that which they know not. Those who are easily led in the wrong direction but hard to lead in the right direction.

In Western society, education has been defined as exploring the basics of different existing subjects (Literature, Science, Mathematics, History) and focusing on one career of choice, whether it be law, medicine, or Architecture. Most of my life I was educated under this Eurocentric educational model in both the Dominican Republic and later on the United States. These systems of education have always been problematic. Starting with the way the subjects are taught. Schools seldom involved students in learning about the histories of peoples from earlier periods of time; civilizations that have far exceeded our levels of technology, science, and the humanities. Their knowledge of these subjects allowed for a better understanding of earth and themselves. As a result, their philosophies were deeply aligned with their nature and reality of mother earth. Although not an ancient civilization, but an original people with like minds as the old societies, this would explain why much of the earlier populations in the Caribbean, like the Taino, were a peaceful people with a deep connection to their environment. In regards to the Tainos Christopher Columbus wrote,

"so tractable, so peaceful, are these people, that I swear to your majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle..I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I please."

Through the view of Christopher Columbus one can see that peace was part of the daily lives of the Tainos, so deeply ingrained into their civilization that it was a spiritual process as well. The sun, water, trees, moon, were respected and praised by designated gods named by the Tainos. The creation of their technology was to please and live in harmony as suppose to destroy and enter wars with other countries for economical, social, and political power. Under the language of Western thought, one can say the Tainos were living in a socialist society.

Nowadays many students, specifically those from the Caribbean, do not know this material because history classes have been designed to only teach the history of the conqueror, not the conquered. Students learn about European History, Western Civilization and Thought, as opposed to learning about the Aztecs, the Tainos, the Mayan, the Incas, the Dogon, the Egyptians, and many other original societies. This is particularly important for students who come from these backgrounds and have inherited traits that are vital in their daily life, but in their current context cannot adequately apply them. These might be reasons why Black and Latino students in contemporary times find it hard to navigate through the current nature of their oppression. They do not know who they are, and are not aware of their roots. Original youth cannot identify with the history because it is not taught to them with a balance to their existence. In other words, creating a pedagogical methodology that relates to the way in which these students learn best is how the youth will learn their immediate history, meaning history that dates from European colonization and after, to their ancient history, where one can study where all original people can from.

In the current educational structure, subjects of the immediate history are taught in a way that is distanced from the reality of the students’ background. Teaching in ways that correlate to the students' placement in the world today will start the mental liberation of the 85%. Students should explore questions like; What were the events in history that have led me to be living in the New York City as an African-American? How did I inherit this identity? What does all this mean to me? I am an advocate towards the use of herstory within curriculums of social studies/history. It is a start in promoting lost values and historical knowledge to working class, immigrant and/or non-immigrant original students. This will start to reconstruct much of the established information that is incorrect and continues to separate all original people. Within the Nation of God and Earth, one of the lessons we are taught deals with the concept of separation and disconnection of oneself with our reality. The 7th degree of 1-14, explores the question: "Why does the devil call our people Africans?" Devil refers to the white man and Africans to original people of the modern-day continent Africa. This degree explores the concepts of the many ways in which the grafted white man has adapted his divide and conquer methods into the minds of all original peoples. This degree uses the example of Africa as one that has been deemed filled with people that are savage living a "jungle way of life." The devil purposely named it Africa to differentiate it from Asia, the original name of the entire planet. Hence, the reason original people around the world see each other differently. History is definitively the tool used in the educational realm of our children to continue this disconnection.

In my vision of education, students will learn civilization and the science of everything in life, which entails the overall concept of gaining knowledge of oneself. Learning the concept of civilization entails understanding of history. When one comprehends and lives out their birthright as a supreme being we can discard information which we can show and proof is wrong to truly be amongst each other as a-alikes. Simultaneously, we can naturally bring out moral and ethical values that make the original man and woman supreme. It is also important for white students (both upper and working class) to be aware of this information. In the 2nd degree of the 1-14th, the purpose of civilization is stated in the last sentence, which is to teach knowledge and wisdom to all the human families of the world. This includes teaching civilization to those we know to be other than ourselves--the grafted man. Throughout history, there have been few, but exceptional righteous white men who have worked towards living harmoniously with original peoples. Only those that can truly understand their nature as weak and wicked can attain this level of civilization. Teaching all the human families is a priority of my educational thesis.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Education Perspectives of an Earth: My Teaching Philosophy (Part 1)

“More than 70 percent of the nation's Black and Latino students attend predominantly minority schools that suffer from poor funding."

It has been 50 years since the United States's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brown v. The Board of Education. Black and Latino students (Mexican mostly) were able to attend schools with white students. However, this call for change does not seem to reflect the current populations of schools. Today segregation still exists, as access to knowledge relates to economic status. An overwhelming majority of original students (Black and Latino) attend schools where they are the majority. Their schools are characterized as rundown, having over-crowded classrooms with teachers that do not understand the students' background and where a need for updated textbooks and technology is needed. These schools tend to be located in inner-cities as well as poor working-class regions of the rural South and the Southwest. Black and Latino students' district schools are very different from that of schools were the majority of students are white. More funding is provided to these institutions and there are characterized as boarding schools, private schools, or public schools located in upper-middle class suburbs. Only those original students who come from affluent economic backgrounds can afford to integrate themselves into schools that are predominantly white. These then become the token original students in those educational spaces.

The existing economic disparities between white and Black/Latino students result in varying educational experiences. It is estimated that the average Black and Latino 17 year-old student reads at the level of a white 13 year-old. This is a reflection of how the educational structure has not changed since Brown v. Board of Education. Policy makers continue to legislate in favor of maintaining an unequal national school system. In several states, federal court decisions helped to create a cultural divide within the schools. One example was in 1991when Oklahoma City’s district court judge ruled that local school districts, which had been ordered to desegregate the schools, would continue to be segregated if needed. An argument widely used by government officials and those in power.

Growing up in Washington Heights, NYC, the first largest concentration of Dominicans outside the island, I was educated within New York City's school District Six. These and other local districts within the city hold overwhelming amounts of original (Black and Latino) students. I personally attended a school where there was only one white (Irish) student. For most of the time in school, until about high school, I played school because most teachers just expected the students to do textbook work. The day consisted of silently reading from our textbooks and filling multiple choice sheets. We sat in rows and looked up at the board. We mostly had substitute teachers because our teachers were frequently absent. Not only were there problems with the institution itself, but it was very problematic for many of us because we had our own issues to deal with at home and society at large.

High School provided a different experience because it was not modeled after the traditional inner-city high schools. It was a new type of institution, one of the coalitions of essential schools; whose philosophy was constructed by white liberalists who sought to "improve" education through open classroom-based learning. These new teachers sought a freer learning environment where transferring of skills were not the focus, but rather through student-interest based learning. This method allowed students to explore their interests, learn through them by writing papers, engaging into discussion, and applying hands-on experiences to their learning. We worked on portfolios and projects that interested us, took internships, and didn't take exams. Teachers felt that the classroom environment also needed to change. Students in these new schools sat in circles instead of rows and communicated with teachers on first name basis. The aim was forming an academic environment that would be able to address students’ social aspects.

Although these new educational alternatives were partly successful, they faced many challenges. The few original teachers and professors in the field of education, such as Lisa Delpit and Sonia Sanchez argued that original students were not receiving the proper transferring of skills needed to succeed in the outside world. How could a kid be able to write a paper if they did not know the structure of a sentence? How would students truly benefit from an education that did not reflect the structure of the society? These and other questions were addressed that did not support the new movement of schools. In her book, Other People’s Children, Lisa Delpit describes that many of the original educators which favored traditional methods of teaching, argued that original kids had understanding (described as fluency), but the lacked skills (wisdom) that would allow them to properly present their ideas. It made sense that Liberal educators would support the open-classroom teaching methodology. Their kids had already learned the skills necessary for communication as they are reared in Standard English. Essentially, the arguments were based on an educational rat race with whites for success of original students in the current exploitative society. Deep research, however, will show how the focus on allowing kids to develop their understanding as opposed to the means of how to communicate them is an original idea. The Egyptians of the early dynasties took centuries to build their architectural structures. They focused on the understanding gained, rather than on the final product.

Aside from these valuable discussions amongst the traditional/original educators with white/liberal educators, these new schools did face many problems. The majority of the teachers remained white (in thinking and in skin), while many of us continued to drop out, and only a few were making it as tokens to higher education institutions. These new experimental schools (whether independent, public, small, non-exam taken), such as the Big Picture Schools and the Coalition of Essential Schools were not as successful at fully addressing kids' social problems. Few teachers were able to relate and truly make a difference in the lives in the kids (i.e. make them see what education is truly about, teach them about what manhood really is, etc). Due to these experiences I have been able to develop my own teaching philosophy. It is not based on any specific teaching pedagogy or curriculum, because I don't seek to build on white man's ideas of education. I don't intend to teach to reach some sort of educational equality for original students to that of white kids. To do this would be to continue to mental oppression that original people suffer today. However, I do seek to build and implement new ideas outside of the existing educational structure that is a based on a lifestyle of truth of the original man and woman.

Izayaa Allat