Sunday, December 13, 2009

Self-Love and Acceptance

I am nearing the end of another semester at Fordham University in the Language, Literacy and Learning doctoral program. My class this term is Curriculum Theories and Practices which has us studying the works (and teachings) of John Dewey, Rousseau's Emile, Ivan Illich, The Bible and Michael W. Apple among others.

Education in America has had an interesting history that has vacillated between believing that children are born "bad" (the Bible), or born "good" (Rousseau) or simply born into preexisting circumstances that create and replicate more of the same.

All of the past discussions have led us to where we are today and the present conversation is all about education and power. It is about how those in power keep their power by maintaining the current structures which ensure their dominance. The term ideological hegemony has been thrown around quite a bit during class - and has become my new favorite expression. Why? Because it proves that those who are "educated" can toss about some five dollar words and seem "smart" when it is simply a fancy term for keeping people in their place.

The idea of critical theory and social justice is one that some educators are bringing into the classroom. There are five stages of social justice education.
1) Self-love and acceptance
2) Respect for Others
3) Exploring Issues of Social InJustice
4) Social Movements and Social Change
5) Taking Social Action
The first is one that is very appropriate for kindergarten students (as is the second). My social justice guru recommended the Dr. Seuss book My Book About Me for ushering young ones into an awareness of themselves & their families and to learn about different aspects of their identity.
So, I am working on figuring out a way to get a copy of this book for each child in my class. Perhaps if we cultivate a generation of students who truly love themselves we can begin to make strides towards shifting the sometimes impenetrable walls that keep the oppressed from the privileged. And maybe we will have a generation of shiny happy people like Justin (pictured above).


Dumdad said...


Thanks for pointing out that link error on my blog. I've fixed it now.

Barbara said...

Self-love and acceptance are important at all ages. How can we possibly expect others to love us if we don't love ourselves?

Of course I am already thinking about how I could work the book into my reading to shelter kids.

You are such a gift to the world of education. That PhD is going to be well deserved!

Gary said...

Dumdad - We are all looking out for one another.

Barbara - The book is more of a 'baby book' or scrap book kind of thing with a lot of space for a child to fill in the information. I think that it is useful to promote discussion about the things on the page though even if they do not fill in the information (in the book itself). It is great for topic ideas as well.

And thank you for the kind words. Again, you have made me smile.

Pauline said...

" those in power keep their power by maintaining the current structures which ensure their dominance"

Those in power do it in education, in government, in organized religion - how do we get the power back?

My grandson is getting a make it yourself book for Christmas. Thanks for the tip!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

how important is this!!! keep up the great work gary.

it sure was wonderful seeing you.

peace, love and social justice - gotta plant the seeds early!!

namaste, xxx

Gary said...

Pauline - I hope he enjoys it. I gave my young nephew a blank journal one year for Christmas and he seemed to love it. At least he told me he did. Have a fantastic Christmas!

Kimy - Namaste dear heart.

WAT said...

Hey, I'd even buy copies of this book for my adult friends! Looks like fun! A party game of sorts!

Gary, you've got me all inspired here! YAY!


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