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How are you going to teach something that you yourself are not?

Posted By: Sherman Miller on March 30, 2006
Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings raises a very interesting point in this video, how can one teach what he or she is not. Her idea to send students to school board meetings is excellent.

On the other hand, I worry that a thug culture has found legitimacy in many public schools today. This thug culture may put many new teachers in a very difficult position if the education colleges and universities don't prepare their students to manage teacher intimidation that is either overly or covertly.

I am presently in the midst of an education doctorate program at the University of Delaware where my interest is in teaching mathematics to first and second year college students who may have come from inner city public schools. I have taught at various colleges such as Cheyney University, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical and Community College, and Delaware County Community College. I found it very important to wear a tie everyday because it is a uniform that garners teacher respect. I don't hear excuses for nonperformance. I make fellows take off their hats, so they don’t appear as a thug. I don’t permit cell phones, eating, or drinking in class. Students must stand up straight while they are doing blackboard assignments. If a student goes to sleep, they must leave the classroom for the day. I proclaim that I am here to teach the students and not to fail them - this proclamation lets the students know that my courses are not college or university cut courses and I really care about their success.

I grew up between two public housing projects during my early youth; therefore, I understand the block culture. I think future teachers growing up in suburban or middle class homes may need help to comprehend the block modus operandi. I think it would be great if Gloria Ladson-Billings had some of her students living in a public housing project for a year. I find I can chastise bad behavior and people take it in stride because they know that I have a feel for who might attempting to exploit teacher intimidation in hopes that social promotion may also work in college. Hence, I argue that understanding the gang banger mentality may be as important as going to a school board meeting for tomorrow’s teachers.
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 How are you going to teach something that you yourself are not? by Sherman Miller on March 30, 2006
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