Monday, November 1, 2010

All Inspiring

Last night I attended Dr. Pedro Noguera’s speech on Social Justice in education. The event was sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs and centered itself upon understanding and responding to the achievement gap.

Dr. Noguera began by describing himself in the simplest fashion, as lucky. He was referring to his upbringing, education, and the various opportunities he received in these regards. Dr. Noguera sought to draw attention to the point that a child’s background and upbringing play a crucial role of their overall progression and success in life. He remarked that the biggest issue in this nation going unaddressed, is poverty, which has now transformed itself into an even larger educational issue. It is clearly evident, that a lower social and economic status creates stress and other problems facing our youth. The compounding of this allocation gap only broadens the opportunity gap. Dr. Noguera remarked that to truly reform educational opportunity in this nation, we must recognize this educational flaw as a political problem. If we were serious about reform in impoverished areas, we must regard education as a civil rights issue.

In making these points, Dr. Noguera passionately conveyed this notion to evoke change on a personal level. As a realist, he understands that this is no easy task that obviously takes time and tireless effort. Yet at the same time, he showed his intended audience of conscious members of our nation, more specifically educators, parents, and anyone else involved in the progression of our youth, that this project is all together possible. This change in educational progression has been proven effective before, and bolstered through his sharing of personal experience, as well as other inspirational stories of institutions and individuals who have elicited drastic improvement.

Dr. Noguera powerful personality, and engaging speaking technique worked together for an altogether amazingly inspirational presentation the possibility for educational improvement. He pointed out that the key to connecting with kids is to develop personal relationships and respect, as a means to show them that they should be excited about knowledge and embrace learning for a better future. Paralleling this idea, Dr. Noguera established this same engagingly connected relationship with his audience in the short hour he spent with us, cementing the effectiveness of his ideas. This was clearly evident in the question and answer aspect after the conclusion of his discussion. The welcoming tone had been set by his speech, and the questions followed suit. Unfortunately one woman completely missed the underlying message of his speech, yet Dr. Noguera handled her, dare I say, with the same level of understanding, attention, and respect, he would apply to troubled youth.

I found Dr. Noguera’s talk to be unbelievable exhilarating, and I can see why his tactics are so effective. He created a an electric atmosphere allowing his energy to rub of on his audience. With he service i am engaged in at Guilford Elementary, I felt inspired to take action and make a difference myself. One of the students I work with loves to draw and in between study session I allow her breaks to blow off steam by doodling in her notebook. I asked her if she enjoyed their art class there, and she responded that they did not have one whatsoever. Art is a passion of mine, and because of Dr. Noguera’s speech I felt compelled to speak with an administrator to attempt to devise a program in which, if possible, i could work with interested students as a means of continuing my service.

I found it easy to connect this event to this weeks readings as it pertained to the article, "Serving Up Hope." In the same inspirational light, Stephanie Shapiro shared the story of a couple who put their creativity and vigor for service together to provide an outlet for the less fortunate. The Sampson's gave former drug users a second chance and an amazing opportunity to turn their lives around by allowing them work and a greater sense of useful purpose. Galen Sampson and Dr. Noguera share the same ability to "hold chaos at bay," in the way that they both embraced a goal and designed apprenticeship programs for the betterment of their fellow man.

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