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edu180atl: quinton walker 2.13.12

My sophomores recently read a powerful excerpt from Jonathan Kozol’s 1991 expose Savage Inequalities. To be sure, the chapter depicting the oft-forgotten East St. Louis, Illinois is a bit dated, as we are some two decades past its publication; its instructive power regarding how we must educate could not be more timely. Timeless, in fact. The responses the piece elicits impart us with our chief directive in educating students for the 21st century — educating for relevance and without regard for traditional boundaries. Consider the following:

“It’s almost as if they’ve never had a voice,” one student remarked at the opening of class today. “Can this be America?” asked another. A chorus of students, all sharing a similar sentiment — “How have I not known about this until now?”

All too often, my students remind me that “the world” has convinced them that their job is to be better, to be a different generation — in due time. My thinking, however, is that their time is now. Why not be audacious from the outset?

My students are eager to cease the “what if” and the idle conversations and move to the more compelling “how can I impact?” Their remarks offer proof. Our students’ vantage points on the world are radically different, enough so to be instrumental in bringing about much needed innovation.

Kozol’s work demands that we engage youthful, unbridled minds in both considering (knowing) and addressing (doing) relevant societal problems that extend beyond the brick and mortar of a school.

About the author: Quinton Walker directs a global citizenship program. He is a foodie, an educational innovator, and is known for his love of uncooked ramen.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kozol is so powerful. I still find myself going back to The Shame of the Naiton and trying to think about how I can expose students to the incredible injustices that are so close to home, and to do it in ways that aren’t completely overwhelming.

    February 13, 2012
  2. Well-said, Quinton. Your description and prescription resonate in all kinds of ways. Lucky students to be working with you.

    February 14, 2012

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