All posts by Jenna Fournel

4 Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Full view of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DCIn honor and celebration of a writer and orator whose words changed the world, we offer four short quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The links go to the full texts from which these quotes were drawn as well as some resources that you may find useful for the classroom.

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”

From “The Purpose of Education” in the February 1947 edition of the Morehouse College student newspaper, the Maroon Tiger.

This quote and others are also explored in this Answer Sheet blog post from Valerie Strauss.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

From “A Proper Sense of Priorities” delivered February 6, 1968, Washington, D.C.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

From: Strength to Love (1963)

Explore many more original texts by Martin Luther King, Jr. in this digital archive.

“I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”

From “Where Do We Go From Here?,” delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention
Atlanta, Ga.  August 16, 1967.

You can listen Dr. King deliver the last 16 minutes of this speech here.

 

 

2017 Convention Proposal FAQ

Are you considering submitting a proposal for the 2017 NCTE Annual Convention? You should!

We’ve been getting some questions about the process and thought it would be a good idea to address the most frequently asked ones below.

Read Jason Griffith’s 6 tips for crafting a proposal here. (He wrote it last year, but they’re still quite relevant!)

Is the proposal system live?

Yes! The proposal system went live on November 19 and can be accessed here. Full details on the word counts and fields you will have to fill in can be found here.

Why is the deadline January 5  January 12?

Your proposal goes through many review steps before a final determination is made about selection. In order to ensure that each proposal gets the time and attention it deserves, we selected a deadline that offers the maximum amount of time for review before our program selection meeting in February. Additionally, the timeline this year reflects a new plan to ensure announcements about the 2017 program go out in April and include schedule information so presenters can secure funding and make arrangements to attend earlier in the year. To accommodate these improvements to the overall process, we opened the proposal system four weeks earlier this year in an effort to provide you with as much time as possible for completion. NOTE: The deadline has just been extended by one week in response to feedback from our members. We have worked to adjust the review process so we can still address the needs outlined above within this new time frame. 

Can I get help with my proposal?

Yes! NCTE has online coaches whom you may contact to help you hone your proposal before you submit it. To give coaches time to work with proposers, please request assistance as soon as possible. Please indicate your reviewer level when emailing annual2017@ncte.org to request a coach.

What topics are being considered this year?

The selection committee is looking for work on a broad range of topics, including:

  • Advocacy
  • Argumentation
  • Assessment
  • Community/Public Literacy Efforts
  • Content Area Literacies/Writing across the Curriculum
  • Composition/Writing
  • Digital and Media Literacies
  • Early Literacies
  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Informational Text
  • Literature
  • Multilingualism
  • Narrative
  • Oral Language
  • Reading
  • Rhetoric
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development

What’s the criteria for selecting sessions?

You can read all about the criteria here. But here are some guiding ideas to help you:

  • Be clear and thoughtful. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for reviewers to imagine what this session might be like.
  • Think engagement. In her call, Jocelyn Chadwick explains that “all program proposals must be interactive, engaging the audience and providing clear takeaways.” Sessions that involve participants in activities, discussion, Q&A, or other kinds of interaction are often the most popular at the Convention, and program planning decisions around proposals are driven by that knowledge.
  • Make it relevant. There is so much going on in education right now that it’s likely any of your ideas will fit in, but bear in mind that attendees come from all over the country, from classrooms of every shape and size. Think about how what you’re thinking and doing in your local context could resonate with folks from lots of different contexts.

The NCTE offices will be closed December 23–January 2. We’ll make sure to answer any additional questions as soon as we get back. 

 

Teachers, Schools, and Civil Discourse

The following post is by NCTE member  Jonna Perrillo and originally ran in the El Paso Times.

jonnaperrilloLike many American parents, I was grateful to send my children to school on November 9. They attend schools where they feel happy and at home, and I hoped that their teachers would recognize and respond to children who felt confused by the end of a confounding election season. I was not disappointed.

In the face of this challenging day, some American teachers chose to do nothing, teaching as usual. But others, including my children’s, did a great deal, from reviewing the US governmental system of checks and balances to discussing tolerance to organizing events for families to attend together. In many places, educators had to address a sense of crisis and despair.

We should applaud the work of teachers and schools like this, those who can see that acknowledging and discussing politics does not equate to either advocacy or excoriation.

American schools have always been good at teaching some kinds of citizenship skills. We require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we teach them about how government works, we ask them to vote for class president as an exercise in campaigns and elections.

Since the introduction of multiculturalism in the 1920s, schools have also been teaching tolerance. This is a vaster project, but at the very least, most humanities teachers know to teach a more diverse set of readings and ideas than they once did.

Citizenship and tolerance are related to but different from civility. Civil discourse requires a person to express ideas in ways that are respectful and informed, expressive and reasonable at once. It includes but exceeds being polite. It is about responding rather than reacting, understanding more than arguing, listening as much as talking, and believing in the process even when one is unpersuaded by another’s ideas.

It is, in other words, a skill, not just a product of character, and one that improves immeasurably when we teach it rather than just expect that it will happen between good people.

Teachers understandably feel pressured to avoid politics in polarizing times, when it feels as though any revelation of how we think is equal to petitioning for one side or the other. Yet polarization is not new, and it has helped to create many teachers who lack the confidence and will to facilitate discussions about any of the kinds of issues that were central to this election.

Teacher educators like myself too often fail to prepare teachers for holding civic discussions, especially about moments that feel unpredictable. We are good at teaching teachers to simulate important acts of citizenship, like voting between one candidate or another. But we fail to teach them how or why to lead discussions about the day after. Or how to talk about ideas around which students may fundamentally disagree. Or how to use the classroom and curriculum to respond to the political fears students absorb. Instead, we treat all of this as extracurricular work. We need to do better.

Now, as much as at any time in our history, teachers across the nation, Democrat, Republican, and Independent, will need to serve as beacons and instructors of civic consciousness and behavior. As citizens who seek greater civility than we have seen, we need to support teachers in the cause, letting them know we value it and the larger goal at hand. And we need to thank those who are doing this difficult work well, however they do it. Our children’s classrooms may just become the best models of how to participate in respectful, productive, and civil discussion.


Jonna Perrillo is associate professor of English education at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and the Battle for School Equity.

Native Education and the Pursuit of Happiness

The following post is the third in a series by Jonna Perrillo, NCTE’s Historian.

ExploringNCTEhistory“Indian people need to be doers, rather than objects to which things are done,” Rough Rock Demonstration School Director Dillon Platero proclaimed in 1970.[1] One of the longest lasting of the 1960s experiments in community control, Rough Rock, a Navajo-operated school in Chinle, Arizona, sought to combine local control of the school with a curriculum that served its population educationally, politically, and psychically. Students at Rough Rock studied (and continue to study today) in English and in Navajo, and they learned Navajo art and science traditions in addition to the standard curriculum. Through a deep, cross-disciplinary immersion in their own culture and history taught largely by Navajo teachers, Rough Rock students could better understand their people’s intellectual traditions and ideas and, by contrast, those of others, as well.

The Demonstration School (called thus because it demonstrated what Native schools could look like and accomplish) marked a break from the federalized public schools that otherwise dotted Indian reservations. Since the early 1900s, both boarding and on-reservation schools had sought to “kill the Indian and save the man” with differing levels of explicitness. Often, schools sought to divorce Native children from their home languages, customs, and dress. At Rough Rock, Platero explained, the aim was just the opposite, and “the child’s self-image and feeling of worthy personhood is not shattered so mercilessly, as often happens, when the difference between what is actual life and what it taught in school strikes the child at the age of six.”[2] Rough Rock sought to dismantle historical traditions in Native American schooling, starting with the psychic damage committed on children.

The NCTE archives hold an extensive collection of materials related to language instruction and literature designed for Native American students in the late 1960s and 1970s, including some focused on Rough Rock. In one of the most important of these documents, a report on the school from 1969, four Navajo external evaluators examined the school in its third year, tasked by the Rough Rock school board to determine how well the curriculum was working.

In so doing, the evaluators looked for the three things:

  1. Is the child happy?

  2. Is the child learning?

  3. Is the child interested?

The school received high scores in learning and interest, 83 and 86 percent, respectively. But in happiness, they found, the school truly excelled, with a score of 94 percent.[3] In asking these questions in this order, the evaluators understood what we often forget now—that happiness is both a political and an educational act, a precondition for individual autonomy and growth as well as community health and identification. People learn better when what they learn deepens and stretches their sense of self-worth and place in the world.

By contrast, school reform policies of the last twenty years have diminished the time and activities in which children are often most happy: physical education, recess, and the arts. We have cut into children’s independent reading time with computerized comprehension tests partnered with material incentives and rewards, as if these are ample replacement for the enjoyment of reading. Writing focused on test prep has taken over, and many students possess far less experience in developing real ideas of their own.

Altogether, the areas that have faced the greatest sacrifice in the past decades are school activities in which students feel most autonomous and free.

Each month, news articles appear applauding the quality of education in Finland; no small number of these articles point to the ways in which student happiness is part of education planning there. Yet it is important to remember that we have traditions of education happiness in our nation—traditions that teachers have been able to prioritize and maintain despite the restrictions and challenges that our schools face and that schools serving low-income populations face all the more acutely. We can learn from our own examples and from the unique perspectives that educators like Platero were able to embrace, often because historical circumstances pushed them to do so.

From its early days, Rough Rock demonstrated far more than what an Indian school looks like; it demonstrated what a school that pushes against history and puts students first looks like. It is not too late to pay attention.

[1] Dillon Platero, “The Rough Rock Demonstration School, Navajo Nation, 1970.” The School in the United States: A Documentary History, James W. Fraser (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001): 312–18, 318.

[2] Platero, 314.

[3] John Y. Begay et al., “Navajo Evaluators Look at Rough Rock Demonstration School” (Washington, DC: Office of Economic Opportunity, 1969), 7. National Council of Teachers of English Archives, Record group 15/73/008, box 7.

#NCTEchat: Black Girls’ Literacies

There is a fantastic #nctechat coming up this Sunday at 8pm on “Black Girls’ Literacies.” It is inspired by the July issue of English Education that was guest edited by Marcelle Haddix and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz.

Hosts for the event include authors from that journal article: 
Detra Price-Dennis, @detramichelle
Marcelle Haddix, @MarcelleHaddix
Gholdy Muhammad, and Sherell McArthur @bglcollective
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, @RuizSealey

Questions the chat will explore: 

Q1: Why do Black girls’ literacies matter in today’s society?

Q2: How do you cultivate space in your classroom where Black girls’ literacy
practices can thrive?

Q3: What are some useful mentor texts that support Black girls’ literacies?

Q4: What are some useful professional resources for teachers?

Q5: What is one take away from tonight’s chat that will inform your practice?

An image you can help us share: 

#NCTEchat on Black Girls' LIteracies questions: Q1: Why do Black girls’ literacies matter in today’s society? Q2: How do you cultivate space in your classroom where Black girls’ literacy practices can thrive? Q3: What are some useful mentor texts that support Black girls’ literacies? Q4: What are some useful professional resources for teachers? Q5: What is one take away from tonight’s chat that will inform your practice?

Check out previous posts on this topic:

Writing to Make Sense of Who We Are

Black Girls Read: An African American Read-In Celebrating the African American Female Literary Legacies of the Past, Present, and Future