As a former teacher in New York City's public schools, I am acutely aware of the daily challenges faced by teachers and students alike – nagging peer pressure, abetted by corporate media’s subliminal yet unrelenting television commercials and hip-hop music videos that extol the values and perceived virtues and rewards of a glorified “gansta” life style. Teachers face an endless task of devising creative methods and curriculum designed to motivate and cultivate young minds. They must constantly look for fresh and relevant opportunities to introduce content to engage students’ personal and broader social exploration of self and society.
The candidacy of Barak Obama this year has offered urban educators precisely what pedagogical types refer to as that coveted “teachable moment.” Obama’s candidacy when, framed by a masterful teacher like Mr. Jackson Shafer in the Bronx High School for Performance and Stagecraft, as seen in the video posted here [See link on left], offers a platform to engage students in their favorite subject: ME. Mr. Shafer’s students explore how, as individuals and collectively, the Obama narrative connects with their own lives and personal challenges. In Obama’s quest they are able to see their own possibilities and life potential and to recognize how their individual lives intersect with broader communal, social, and political concerns.
This is learning and teaching at its finest.
Whether or not Senator Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America in 2008, his emergence as a viable candidate of color continues to inspire millions of minority youth in America and around the world in ways unimaginable.
I hope you agree that this powerful 13-minute video is worth viewing and should be seen in classrooms and among those responsible for the education and uplift of America’s youth.