When I enrolled at the MAT@USC I expected to learn how to teach. I have not been disappointed. My professors are enabling me to build the knowledge I need to be an effective teacher. I did not, however, expect to have my perspective on education, race, and social class distinctions challenged and refocused. The reason? I never even consider that my perspective was in need of fine-tuning. Luckily for me, and my future students, my Social Context of Urban Schools course cleared my view on why urban education is so broken, and what it will take to fix it.
The Social Context of Urban Schools is a complex course with multiple class and forum discussions centering on issues of race, ethnicity, and poverty, among other “uncomfortable” topics. One of the most powerful moments for me was when Professor Jennifer Crawford had the class explain what our own race meant to us. I have never been asked that question before. I honestly drew a blank. “I’m White.” That is all I could think to say. And that is when I understood that I define my race by what I am not. A very eye-opening experience that helped me to understand that my confusion about race relations in America are grounded in the very real issues of racial isolation, the forever increasing segregation of American society, the unequal distribution of power and resources, and the idea that multiculturalism has ended racism, to name a few.
What I value most is how this new knowledge is shaping my views on learning theories and instructional strategies. I feel that I am gaining those skills that are critical to being an effective teacher in an urban classroom. However, I feel that these courses are even more important for teachers in White suburbia. Children of all races and social classes must be educated about these issues if we ever hope to walk down the path toward a truly just and equitable society.