My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Monday, December 12, 2022

December 12, 2022: Fall Semester Moments: Du Bois and Public Education

[This semester went fast, felt slightly more familiar than the very strange last couple years, and featured some wonderful individual moments that exemplified why I do what I do. So this week I’ll highlight one such moment from each class—share your own Fall moments in comments, please!]

On a moment that embodies the best of public education.

I’ve been in the world of public education for almost my entire life, from my 13 years as an elementary and secondary student to my 4.5 as a grad student to my 21 (going on 22!) as a public university professor. While of course I wasn’t always as aware of broader issues and trends during all those years (yes, it’s sadly true, 5 year old AmericanStudier was slightly less of an AmericanStudier), I have to believe that at none of those earlier moments has public education been under as sustained and aggressive attack as it is here in 2022. There are many layers to those attacks, but if I had to boil them down, I’d say that they consistently comprise both false narratives about teachers and the work we do and purposeful misunderstandings of controversial topics and themes such as race and anti-racism (along with attempts to censor and ban texts about such issues).

Challenging and countering those narratives, misunderstandings, and attacks needs to be a similarly multi-layered and consistent process, of course. But sometimes there are individual moments that just exemplify the important and inspiring realities of public education, and I experienced one in my 19th Century African American Literature course this semester. We had read excerpts from W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and one of my most thoughtful and impressive students, a young man in our English Studies Secondary Education concentration, reflected at length in his weekly email reading response on that book’s concept of double consciousness and what it helped him continue to understand about both his own life and identity as an American of color and his goals for working with his future students of color. Besides being one of the best weekly emails I’ve ever received, this moment truly embodied to me what public education can include and offer—in my public university class, in this student’s future classes, and for our society as a whole. May we all get better at recognizing and supporting such moments and goals.

Next semester moment tomorrow,


PS. Fall moments you’d share?

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