Breaking down assumptions and acknowledging existing power dynamics are essential aspects of effective communication on education, according to Deborah Menkart, executive director of Teaching for Change. Menkart spoke on the September 19 edition of the Education Town Hall. Listen to the full discussion
Parents who have been marginalized within a school or school system often feel their voices are simply not heard, Menkart says. TFC’s parent engagement approach, called “Tellin’ Stories,” begins by helping parents share community knowledge with teachers and administrators. This can alter the more usual dynamic in which schools are assumed to be the knowledgable party, while “parents are lectured about what they’re not doing for their children.”
This program reaches two schools per year in the DC area. In addition, TFC offers workshops to help others develop the Tellin’ Stories idea in their own communities and schools.
The Tellin’ Stories approach is based, in part, on the work of Paulo Freire, Menkart added. She also noted that September 19 the birthday of the educator, philosopher and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed (9/19/21 – 5/2/97).
Another TFC initiative — in honor of Latino/Hispanic Heritage month — helps teachers include Central American history and literature in their classrooms. This is especially important, Menkart explains, in places like Washington, DC, where many families are Central American but schools generally include little material from that region. Materials are available via the website to educators everywhere.
TFC’s Zinn Education Project reaches 32,000 teachers nationwide, Menkart says, about 800 of them local to DC. In addition, The Teaching for Change bookstore offers teaching materials and culturally diverse titles for adults and children. It is located at Busboys and Poets restaurant in the District, where regular booktalks take place, and provides its catalog on-line.
Listen to the September 19 edition of The Education Town Hall
This week’s News Notes.
The Education Town Hall is broadcast Thursdays at 11 a.m. (Eastern) on We Act Radio.
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