This is a guest post from Dr. Marcus Croom, Assistant Professor of Curriculum & Instruction, Indiana University School of Education and CITL DEIJ Faculty Fellow
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that both public and curricular issues are likely to arise in our classrooms. In this 2021-2022 academic year, that consideration is especially salient as we simply look around at what is occurring daily outside of our classrooms, off and on campus. In that first blog, I focused on examples of curricular issues that I have been thinking about in higher education, reminding us of what is “already evident in our current curricula and courses in the United States of America and at Indiana University.” In this second blog post of a three-part series, I turn our attention to some public issues that may have come up in your class by now. Furthermore, I’ll share some insights about how to have a real talk this semester to help us constructively address any one of a number of public issues that may surface in our classes.
In 1903, Dr. W. E. Burghardt Du Bois urged that
The function of the university is not simply to teach bread-winning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.” (The Souls of Black Folk, Of the Wings of Atalanta)
Over 100 years ago, before the 1918 and COVID-19 pandemics, the “long Southern strategy” Republicans, or the “neoliberal” Democrats, Du Bois was cutting-edge clear about the link between living and learning in our times. Among countless promising post-White projects, Du Bois has invited us to explicitly use university teaching and learning to engage the real world for good results—pedagogic functions which he regarded as “the secret of civilization” itself.
Our world today is certainly not Du Bois’ world. Yet, there are some continuing public issues that are still relevant now such as race, racism, and politics. How might we address the myriad public issues of our times in a manner that meets Du Boisian rigor? I suggest that all educators practice the Real Talk Protocol (RTP)©, “a systematic way to discuss public issues with credibility, criticality, clarity, and confidence” (Croom, 2021, Chapter 4). Since the RTP is already detailed in Real Talk? How to Discuss Race, Racism, and Politics in 21st Century American Schools, here I offer some bridges between higher ed classrooms and the RTP. Think of the following questions as bridges that we might use to help us link the Real Talk Protocol (RTP)© to our university courses this academic year:
- Which course-relevant, public issues are your students bringing up during class or in their assignments?
- Which course-relevant, public issues are not yet reflected in your syllabus or course readings, but are currently spotlighted in our campus, city, county, state, or national community?
- Which public issues are already reflected in your syllabus or course readings, but are outdated or too narrowly depicted as of 2021? What has changed since you included these public issues in your coursework?
- Whose voices or perspectives are not informing your classroom understanding of the public issue(s) that are coming up in, or already included in, your course(s)?
- Which course-relevant, public issues are uncomfortable or difficult for you, the professor, to discuss during class?
There are additional bridges that we might use to bring the real talk protocol© into our university courses, but the point is this: Each of these possible pedagogical moves all require the DuBoisian rigor of de/reconstructively intersecting schooling and society for good results. So, are you—are we— going to have a real talk?
Croom, Marcus (2021). Real Talk?: How to Discuss Race, Racism, and Politics in 21st Century American Schools. Brio Education Consulting, LLC
Croom, Marcus. (2020). A Case Study from “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo'” with Practice of Race Theory. The Journal of Negro Education. 89. 385-409.
Croom, Marcus & Flores, Tracey & Kamberelis, George. (2019). Literacies of Interrogation and Vulnerability: Reimagining Preservice Teacher Preparation Designed to Promote Social Justice in Education. 10.1007/978-3-319-74078-2_105-1.