Teaching and Theatrics



 

With individual or pooled resources, you can get blackboards, white smartboards, desks, chairs, laptops, or iPads. Add virtual and in-person students with guidance from a passionate professional, and you’ve established the perfect environment for teaching and learning. Perhaps, if only it were that simple to fix the complex challenges of education, we would’ve done it by now.


Probably not... With every resource in place, solutions to educational problems remain a mystery.


On the world stage, governments ignore schools' performances and miss their part in sustaining economies and addressing social inequalities. Institutional leaders play politics while students from underserved communities get left behind in the residue of failed presidential policies. The status quo wins again.


Let’s take a look at recent events in the US education system. There is an ongoing shortage of public school teachers and limited incentives to fill the vacancy pool. Conservatives are suing the Biden administration for the plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal loans. The movement to ban books reflective of historical atrocities and contemporary casualties is gaining momentum.


It's not that the world’s problems begin inside the class and race drawn boundaries of school districts in the United States. Many of this blog's readers call the US home, which makes it a good starting point. Our self-interests are what brought us here today.

The schools in Antigua and Barbuda are not perfect. Teachers decided to strike this week because the Ministry of Education failed to provide security officers for all public schools. The request for increased security occurred after a series of break-ins and acts of vandalism. Public and private schools of the twin islands have many challenges impacting local and ex-pat families.


I chose the field of education to teach students and to support policies that improve school conditions in underserved communities. Sitting in the professorial ivory tower, writing, and meeting with colleagues were not my intentions. But, between moving abroad and connecting to a passion for writing, I became another actor in a complex theatrical system.


Sure, I have participated in a fair share of community-based initiatives. I have volunteered to teach capoeira at the K-College levels in the United States, Mexico, and Antigua. In addition, my books have landed in the hands of readers around the world.


I've done solid work since earning a Ph.D. in 2013, but there are many moments when I feel pressure to do more.


We continue to measure our students’ abilities through standardized multiple-choice exams. Regardless of the research that acknowledges these assessment tools as laced with cultural biases and inadequate intelligence indicators, they remain the go-to test option. Moreover, standardized tests do not measure creativity, perseverance, or other difficult to quantify attributes that support success.

The ACT, SAT, LSAT, MCAT, and GRE tests open and close educational doors in the United States.


Performing among the top 100 students on an exam administered at the end of sixth grade in Antigua and Barbuda determines admittance to reputable public secondary schools. As a result, teachers extend the school day and recommend parents hire additional tutors to prepare their children. Teachers, administrators, and parents relish the newspaper report indicating where the top 100 students attended school.


We allow the weight of standardized tests to prevent progress. I have several students in a difficult position because of their challenges with passing an exam. If my advisees do not pass, they will leave the island without good employment options to eliminate student loan debt.


Even with the Biden administration’s forgiveness plan, some of my American students will experience significant challenges repaying the balance to their loan provider.


Maybe the solutions to the education system’s problems are on the pages of banned books. Students need every resource that supports creativity, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Without books that explore a myriad of topics, we limit our intellectual and empathetic potential as human beings.


Schools need security. It's an important investment to protect learning resources. If we cannot prioritize education, our safety will be among the many issues we will face.


I end each blog post with a call to action. Sometimes it is a request to subscribe or buy one of my books. This week, I want you to decide how you will respond to the state of education. Leave a comment below, and we can explore opportunities for collaboration.


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