Education Feed

Donovan Livingston's Spoken Word Convocation Speech at Harvard is a Classic

Enjoy this speech, in video and text, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.'16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation exercises. Instead of a traditional speech, he chose to communicate via spoken word and he is awesome. 

Donovan Lingston

 

Lift Off

 

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,

is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.

At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — I couldn’t write.

Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.

For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.

Yet somehow, we have never questioned the keeper of the keys —

The guardians of information.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering

In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.

For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.

How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —

Like tokens in coined phrases? —

“Diversity. Inclusion.”

There are days I feel like one, like only —

A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.

But, hey, I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.

 

Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.

With a passion that transcends the confines of my own consciousness —

Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.

I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,

With veins pumping revolution.

I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.

I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.

And a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget

My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.

So my body, like my mind

Cannot be contained.

 

As educators, rather than raising your voices

Over the rustling of our chains,

Take them off. Un-cuff us.

Unencumbered by the lumbering weight

Of poverty and privilege,

Policy and ignorance.

 

I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,

“Donovan, we can put all of  your excess energy to good use!”

And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.

She gave me a stage. A platform.

She told me that our stories are the ladders

That make it easier for us to touch the stars.

So climb and grab them.

Keep climbing. Grab them.

Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.

Light up the world with your luminous allure.

 

To educate requires Galileo-like patience.

Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.

If you take the time to connect the dots,

You can plot the true shape of their genius —

Shining in their darkest hour.

 

I look each of my students in the eyes,

And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt

And the pyramids of Giza.

I see the same twinkle

That guided Harriet to freedom.

I see them. Beneath their masks and their mischief,

Exists an authentic frustration;

An enslavement to your standardized assessments.

 

At the core, none of us were meant to be common.

We were born to be comets,

Darting across space and time —

Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.

A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened right here —

An indelible impact that shook up the world.

Are we not astronomers — searching for the next shooting star?

I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —

Tribulations into telescopes,

So a child can see their true potential from right where they stand.

An injustice is telling them they are stars

Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.

Injustice is telling them education is the key

While you continue to change the locks.

 

Education is no equalizer —

Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.

So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices

Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.

Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.

I’ve been the Black hole in a classroom for far too long;

Absorbing everything, without allowing my light to escape.

But those days are done. I belong among the stars.

And so do you. And so do they.

Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness

For generations to come.

So no — no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.

Lift off.

 

~ Donovan Livingston

 

 

 

 


Wish List: Clear Touch Interactive Board

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I love this board!


 

Because of my job, I attended the FAMIS (Florida Association of Management Information Systems) Conference in Tallahassee in June of this year. At this conference, information is shared regarding information technology and issues affecting K-12 public schools throughout the State of Florida. The conference agenda included the typical informational sessions spearheaded by Florida Department of Education staff and offerings by several vendor of technology products. Since I embrace being a technology gadget geek, I was immediately drawn to the Clear Touch Interactive Board prominently staged at the entrance to the hospitality area. 

On the upper left portion of the screen was the MC Hammer video “Don’t Touch This”. The rest of the space was available to write… draw…and do a number of creative things. It was awesome. When the MC Hammer video was followed by a full screen video of scenes from Australia and other countries, the potential for out-of-the-box teaching and learning was apparent and overwhelming. I could envision children in some of the most economically challenged areas in my community being exposed to virtual travel around the world as well as an array of cultural activities. Education liberates minds and transforms lives. One of the things I liked most about this board was that it was self-contained; there was no separate projector as in other interactive boards I’ve used. 

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture or record a video of the presentation. Quite frankly, the videos of the unit I’ve seen on the web, even the company’s website, don’t do it any justice. Unless the technology improves significantly over the next two years, when I retire, I will definitely purchase a Clear Touch for use with my non-profit organizations and community activities.

If you have any questions about the Clear Touch Interactive Board, contact Keone Trask at kt@getcleartouch.com. 

 

 

 


The Successful Launch of OWN --- the Oprah Winfrey Network [VIDEO]

Jay-z-oprah-winfrey 
OK, Oprah Winfrey is my hero --- for real. Her amazing risk to start a new television network and not rest on her talk show laurels has garnered another win. This new network is fabulous. It’s the Church of Oprah 24/7 and that’s not a bad thing especially since so many people watch FOX-News. OWN is the antidote. Yeah, I went there.

The Behind the Scenes show is predictable but still interesting to watch. Some of the other entries on the OWN  schedule: searching for; Kidnapped by the Kids; Enough Already with Peter Walsh and Miracle Detectives are also nice but by far my favorite is Master Class. The first subject/teacher interviewed was Jay-Z and I have to tell you I was impressed. So impressed that I’ve seen it twice and probably on my way to seeing it again.

I know Jay-Z is a music icon; super rich and married to Beyonce. Beyond that, I’ve not been much of a fan. I do like his song “Hard Knock Life.” Since Oprah’s Master Class, I definitely respect Jay-Z. He is a personification of the result of the 10,000-hour theory discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers.” This young man, no different from someone like Tiger Woods, started early in mastering his craft. With a boom box purchased by his mom and a semi-handcrafted notebook given to him by an aunt, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, learned the power of words.

Now, I figure that there are more Jay-Z’s caught up in America’s public housing system; public school system and the penal system. With proper focusing of talent, these young people may be able to transcend poverty and other societal ills if given the opportunity.

Jay-Z made so many profound statements during this hour-long show. He talked of the future of hip-hop; failure and success; goal setting and the power of music to combat racism among many subjects. It will be difficult for anyone to follow Jay-Z in the Master Class series and have the impact that he did. I read Twitter and Facebook comments about his episode and many viewers were impressed.

Some will likely complain that Oprah is too preachy and caters to whites but Oprah is just being Oprah. Everyone should have a purpose in Life and be true to him or herself. Oprah is a brilliant woman. Her messages are positive and most of the time transcend race to show the humanness and sameness in all of us. She knows her audience and knows the formula that works. With the everyday American citizen still reeling from the economy and other challenges, a little Oprah is good and a lot of Oprah is what we need. There is power in words and when combined with action, allows us to overcome anything. Thank you, Oprah. I am grateful to experience my OWN channel during my lifetime. To God be the glory. Now let the Church say Amen.

 

Related Links:

The Official Website of the Oprah Winfrey Network/OWN

Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success"

 

© 2006-2011, Vanessa: Unplugged!, All Rights Reserved


Transformation through Education [VIDEO]

Here's a video from the TED site. I love visiting that site. The videos and talks are so thought-provoking and informative; I highly recommend it.

This particular video is about educating the poor in India. It would seem that many of the principles mentioned in the video could be incorporated in our public education curriculum. I'm not an educator but I highly suspect that effective teachers are already putting these principles into practice.

The word "Parikrma" implies a full revolution, a complete path around -- and Shukla Bose's Parikrma Humanity Foundation offers literally that to kids in poor urban areas around Bangalore. Parikrma's four Schools of Hope teach the full, standard Indian curriculum to children who might not otherwise see the inside of a classroom, with impressive results. Equally important, the schools build an "end-to-end" environment that supports learning -- offering lunch every day, health-care and family support. Beyond these schools, Parikrma has inaugurated several afterschool programs and has plans for setting up a central teacher-training hub.

Bose left behind a corporate career in 1992 to found Parikrma with a small group of friends. The nonprofit holds itself to formal business goals and strict accountability, and has developed some clever fundraising and marketing campaigns. As Bose puts it, the goal of Parikrma is to help build a better India by tapping its greatest strength: the vitality and potential of its people.

"Education of children is at the core of our aim to transform poor communities into self-sustaining, contributing communities. " ~ Shukla Bose

 

Website: Parikrma Humanity Foundation


President Obama's Message for America's Students [VIDEO]

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZZ6GrzWkw0


Defending the Indefensible: Prejudging President Obama’s Back-to-School Speech [VIDEO]

The propaganda of President Obama’s speech is deafening. You can read it in its entirety by going to the White House website but I’d like to share some of the egregious statements made by this nation’s leader.

“Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. “

How dare the President discuss personal responsibility to our little darlings. Hmmm…shame on him.

Here’s more:

“Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

And there he goes actually praising our children, letting them know that each of them is special. How dare he?! The President’s speech goes on and on which such mind-controlling rhetoric.

The political leaders and parents who have taken to the airwaves with vicious attacks against the President and his message will likely find a way to continue trash him although his message his positive and uplifting.

Here’s my favorite excerpt from the President’s speech:

“But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying. 

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.” 

In a nation where the high school dropout rate is abysmal at best, the uproar over President Obama’s speech is a tremendous waste of time and energy. The most vocal opponents of the President’s speech are likely people who just oppose the President. Period. End of story. Insert any issue President Obama proposes and the story will be the same.

 


Arizona State University Disses President Obama

Straight from the "you've got to be kidding" category, Arizona State University (ASU) basically jumped into the "diss Obama" fray. The President has been invited to speak at the University's commencement but he will not be given an honorary degree as expected. The University spokesperson actually indicated they wouldn't give President Obama an honorary degree because he hasn't done enough yet. Huh?


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but what is to be gained by such an action? Let's see, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States; John McCain was not. Let's get past this foolishness and work together as Americans.

President Obama has already proven his academic prowess and his accomplishments are well-documented. ASU does itself no favor by withholding an honorary degree from someone as learned as President Obama. The continuous personal attacks on the President rather than addressing issues this country needs to overcome is old, boring, and counterproductive. It also strengthens President Obama's favor with most Americans and the rest of the world.


South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame

South Carolina teen Ty'Sheoma Bethea made history because she wrote a letter to lawmakers regarding the deplorable condition of her school. Writing the letter was basically a challenge by her principal, Amanda Burnette and Ty'Sheoma asked for 41 cents to mail her letter. Burnette faxed the letter to President Obama and the rest is history.

That simple act snowballed into a refocusing on the United States' unequal public education system and Ty'Sheoma's moments in the spotlight with First Lady Michelle Obama and many top reporters and journalists. She also refocused the nation's attention on South Carolina's 'Corridor of Shame'.

Upon initially hearing this young lady's story, I did not realize that I could relate it to one of my favorite Jon Voight movies, Conrack, based on the experiences of a white teacher in a rural black school isolated from much of society. Since my mother's family is from the Carolinas --- (yes, I am Geechee and proud) --- I often wondered if any of the people depicted in the film were my relatives.

Not much has changed since Pat Conroy documented his South Carolina teaching experience in his book, The Water Is Wide: A Memoir [1972], and it was made into the movie, Conrack in 1974.

Please see the trailer of the documentary 'Corridor of Shame' and then ask yourself how South Carolina Governor Mark Stanford can refuse economic stimulus money to help repair his state's schools. This is really happening in America. Now. It's South Carolina's shame and the shame of America.

   

© 2009, Vanessa: Unplugged!, www.vanessabyers.net

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.

   


Barack Obama’s Excellent Adventure

It's almost midnight and I'm watching Senator Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton in Kissimmee, Florida at a rally of I don't know how many people but there are a lot of them. As usual, it's a rainbow coalition and the energy transcends the television screen.

There is no way, unless there is finagling, that McCain-Palin can win this election. Not unless there is foolishness involved, does logic not tell me that Americans overwhelmingly support Obama-Biden. Voters are out in record numbers here in Florida. Polling hours have been extended, young people are voting in numbers never expected, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and the Obama-Biden Team is campaigning as if they are 20 points behind. They are calling and canvassing neighborhoods to get people to the polls to cast their ballots. Did I mention the team of lawyers who are manning the polls to address any problems that voters may have? This is serious, y'all.

Obama started this evening with that highly anticipated infomercial that was unbelievable. There is no way that anyone with a heart could not have been touched by that presentation of the Obama platform through vignettes on Americans coping with our troubling economy, health care needs, broken promises of funding retirement and improvements needed in education.

I'm not saying that John McCain should throw in the towel but I do sense the continued implosion of his campaign as the November 4th voting date approaches. As McCain continues to try the failed kitchen sink strategy deployed by the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign during the primary phase, he appears more desperate and less presidential.

We are less than 6 days away from making history. We are not measuring drapes for the White House but we are confident that Americans will do the right thing and vote for change that we all need in America.

 

   

© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!, www.vanessabyers.net

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.

 

   


Oprah in the News for Good and Bad Reasons

Oprah and her show have been in the news for odd reasons lately. First of all, a big deal is being made about Oprah's interview with supermodel Heidi Klum and her husband, Grammy-award winner, Seal. It seems that Miss Heidi was oh so honest when admitting that one of the first things she noticed about Seal was his rather ample package. He was wearing biker shorts at the time, give the woman a break.

Hardly a mumbling word would be uttered if Klum was black but since she's white some folks are giving her a hard time about it. I do admire the fact that Klum has no regrets about making the statement. Hey, let me be honest, I probably would have noticed too. The truth is the light.

Anyhoo, the couple has been married for two and a half years and by all appearances are very happy. It takes more than Seal's package to keep that marriage intact so rather than rag on the couple, just wish them well and move on to something really important.

In more Oprah news, it seems that her much publicized all-girls school in Africa is the subject of a sexual and physical abuse scandal. Oprah tearfully apologized to the parents of the girls and gave the girls her contact information to reach her personally.

The father of one of the girls said they didn't blame Oprah.