Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Haven't you Learned Anything???: Reflections on AFATAC's TRANSFERING KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION

Dead Prez's song "They Schools," became an anthem to me in 2000, I was 15 years old, and still struggling in a school environment. The class rooms were crowded, my world outside of school felt unstable and chaotic, and the information I learned appeared to be inapplicable. Not to mention at 15 I was working with organization like Ella Baker Center for Human Right, who helped me to see that the structure of the system wasn't created to encompass the collective experience. The "Standardized Tests" were created by upper middle class/affluent class white men on the east coast, and collected no aptitude data besides multiple choice answers.

I spent a lot of my time in the street on public transportation, at Karate, and later in political youth movements that showed me that Hip Hop in every element could serve as the medium and outlet for life experiences and empowerment towards change.

At 13 It was difficult for me to sit in a class room for a block period while the teacher lectured and asked us to answer questions out of a book. Not to mention, there was only one week out of the school year where we could do interactive electives, I really did look forward to the photography program, or a theater group, it's where I felt at ease and able to interact and digest the world.

By nature I've always been rebellious, you tell me to sit I'd rather stand, you tell me that the sky is blue I would find a way to argue that it was purple. You told me that traditional education was the only way to be successful in this life, I'd stand on a bull horn and argue why it didn't work and give you examples of alternatives."

My education was very non-traditional even though I attended public schools for the majority of my life. I attended an art based public elementary school where interactive learning was valued as the standard. My martial arts training became a the foundation for my life and when I was sent to boarding school for the first time in 5th grade Applied Scholastic study skills became the foundation for over coming the barriers that kept me from accessing and digesting knowledge and information. Giving me the tools to remedy when I was feeling angry towards my lessons

Bored or not there with my studies or confused

As far back as I can remember my mom had made games to drill me on letters, and plant and animal names, I was reading by the age of 4. To her a Filipino Immigrant, going to school = freedom and opportunity. (but to me at 15 it meant conformity and lies) But Education would become a life long obsession.

When I attended the AFATAC's Learning circle the first time at the Women's Building is SF they presented me with Howard Gardener's Theory of Multiple Intelligence levels.

I was in awe happy to see that there was a body of knowledge that was advocating for the plethora of ways that people exhibit intelligence. So when I saw that they were developing a collective of youth workers to further the progress of youth development training I had to jump on board

I was blown away the acknowledgement of the different ways that humans process and interact with the world was reaffirming and made me hopeful for the progress that needs to be made.

Although I found that the trainings varied from the first one. In this past training on Transferring Knowledge and Information they only touched on :

Linguistic intelligence ("word smart"):

Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")

Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")

Musical intelligence ("music smart")

Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")

Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")

Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")


Existential Intelligence from the list..... and I felt kinda short changed. Seeing how on the very first time AFATAC ran the workshop that's where I found myself standing at the end of the "gallery walk" exercises. Me and one other person...

But, I can see how incorporating "Existential Learning" in an academic environment could be tricky, seeing how it would have to go deep into world religions and spiritual existence, subjects that are difficult to manage, and would make many parents uncomfortable... for now. ;).

This information was vital to my expanding mind. The importance of integrating this information into the after school program development is key. California's public school system has been on the decline for the past 37 years, and with the elimination of interactive learning, no more shop classes, no more funding for classroom supplies, even Mission High School eliminated their JV football team!!!

We have over crowded classrooms, damn near 30-40 youth per 1 teacher in a classroom. So that means 30-40 HUMAN BEINGS with multiple life experiences and multiple ways of absorbing knowledge and information, trying to learn from someone who's curriculum is designed for Linguistic and Mathematical learners. (On a side note can I say how unfair to the teacher it is to have to be responsible and accountable for that many individuals education, no wonder the education is watered down).

As a Youth Worker I find it essential to help to create programing that reflects the collective human experience of the community, as well as assisting in finding support for the individual.

But this is a change that can only be made by the community, we need to take a stand against a failing education system, and as a members of a democratic government it's important to hold our Representatives accountable and encouraging them to correct the deficiency.

We gotta say "I'm a Human Being God Damn it! My Life has value." We need to stay well equip and competitive in this changing world. And the CA education system needs our assistance in bring about change.

Today is a big day.... Today at 6pm the SF board of education will be deciding if they will be adding ethnic studies to the curriculum, major steps forward in the realm of equity in education, proof that change can happen... next steps... I say integrate multiple intelligence theory into lesson plans.... but for now I'll do my best to integrate it into afterschool time.

1 comment:

Jason Wyman said...

Hey Nina:

This is fabulous! I really appreciate reading your personal story and how it connects with the content discussed at the Learning Circle. I agree, it was was very difficult decision to leave out Existential Learning as I was that other person standing next to you.

Part of the reason it was intentionally left out is because the more I researched Multiple Intelligences the less I found about Existential Learners. I felt it was important that AFATAC address and present information that had the best research behind it. I still believe that Existential Learning is vital and important. And I hope more research proves it as a one of the intelligences. But I still find myself asking: who's research and whose expertise.