The Appointed Need to Learn

It has been three weeks since I started my PhD. program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In those three weeks I have read about 7 or 8 books, a plethora of essays and had more meaningful conversations than you can imagine. It has given me a new appreciation for those with PhD’s, to say the least. But, one of the books that I am re-reading is The Souls of Black Folk. There is a section in the chapter entitled Of the Black Belt that resonated stridently with me. Du Bois is sitting on the porch after a long hot drive with his routine interlocutor of sorts, and asks whether or not they ever owned land. The “neat matronly preacher’s wife, plump, yellow and intelligent” as Du Bois describes, starts to share that the only land that have is the house. She details how they were cheated out of the land they purchased by the white racist establishment. The husband, then, responds by calling the same man who stole their land a “regular cheater.” He continues to tell how he worked for the man for 37 days and he promised to pay, but reneged on the wages. This started a cycle of events that led to him losing his mule, corn and furniture. Du Bois responds, “Furniture…but furniture is exempted from seizure by law.” The husbands response is what prompted by tensions: “Well he took it just the same…”
I sit daily in a restricted place of privilege where access to education is afforded to me. I can read, write and engage others, as we struggle to identify the systems plotting to destroy our growth. It is a serious endeavor to be a part of a community that recognizes the existential reality that what we are doing here matters. We are not just here to dazzle people with our new words and phrases, but our souls are embedded in the pages of assignment. We search for excellence as an ode to the elders who paved the way. Education is our Black Rage –our creative response to the trauma that has been rendered lawlessly upon our blessed souls.
So, we accept this appointment to learn, with honor, dignity and revolutionary vigor, in order that we may find the necessary words to address to the atrocities when black and brown folks have been cheated. Because we can’t afford too many more, “Well he took it just the same…”

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I Quit

Teacher calls it Quits…

Diane Ravitch's blog

A letter from a disgusted teacher:

I QUIT

Kris L. Nielsen
Monroe, NC 28110

Union County Public Schools
Human Resources Department
400 North Church Street
Monroe, NC 28112

October 25, 2012

To All it May Concern:

I’m doing something I thought I would never do—something that will make me a statistic and a caricature of the times. Some will support me, some will shake their heads and smirk condescendingly—and others will try to convince me that I’m part of the problem. Perhaps they’re right, but I don’t think so. All I know is that I’ve hit a wall, and in order to preserve my sanity, my family, and the forward movement of our lives, I have no other choice.

Before I go too much into my choice, I must say that I have the advantages and disadvantages of differentiated experience under my belt. I have seen the other side, where…

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Reflecting on the Importance of Education

What would life resemble if I had no education? I am not altogether sure if financially, I would be better or worse off. I could not have applied for the job that I have at this moment. But on the flip side I would not owe money for financial loans. I could go on and on for a day with that cat and mouse game but I will spare you the naive attempts to prove a circular point.

What I can say is that having an education has proven to be beneficial due to the fact that it gives me a voice and a level of creditability. It gives me a voice because it amps my scholarship as I write and speak. It gives me parameters that allow me to collect my thoughts more cohesively. Through the different means, I am able to relate too many with simple keystrokes, that has the potential to reach millions in matter of moments. Genius is on display or lack thereof every time someone reads the words that are on the page.  Michael Eric Dyson asserts, “Writing is a risk, a risk of exposure of ignorance on the page and the joy of self-discovery.” It is quite possible to lose one self in the midst of the lines leaving one to grapple with a self rescue through words and paragraphs.

Education has given me a since of creditability because it allows others see where you have matriculated and the level of discipline that you have mustered to see it through until the end. Now this is not really a bearing on your aptitude to learn but it does make a powerful statement.

Let me make a clarifying statement that going to school is not the sum total of education. A school setting is needed and good for some. The structured level of learning makes one prioritize and discipline themselves to see it through until the end.  Learning has to take place through your entire life and must never stop. I know folks that didn’t go to college but have more wisdom than I can read in 20 books. My father is a wise man, a lot of my friends are wise men, my wife is wise but most of them did not finish college. They have a level of genius that cannot be interpreted by a grade point average. They have a functional wisdom that is productive to fulfill their call and vocation that God has for their life. They have embraced what Thelonius Monk defines as a genius-“a person who knows how to be themselves.”

Bottom line is education never stops as long as you are living and there are many ways to get it….

Just my thoughts