What We’re Reading: A Look at Trauma from an Inner-City Educator

Author: Paul Herdman

What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

 

What I’m Reading Watching: “Roses in Concrete,” a TED Talk by Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade

 

Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade is an associate professor of Raza Studies and Education at San Francisco State University and the founder of the Roses in Concrete Community School, “a community responsive lab school” in East Oakland. He’s been an educator and school leader in East Oakland for over 20 years and has published and lectured on his work globally.

 

I was inspired to view his 13-minute TED Talk after seeing him speak in a small gathering in NYC last week. His talk focuses on the trauma and violence that young people face daily in his part of the world—and the impact it can have on young minds. I found it compelling on several fronts.

 

First, he’s speaking from the heart about a place that he clearly loves and cares about. At one point he shares a map of where he lives and teaches in East Oakland with an overlay of red dots that indicate homicides. It reminded me of a similar map created for Wilmington, where I live with my family.

 

Second, he’s an academic and draws on a wide range of research to understand the challenge. He doesn’t rely on just the educational research, but also on neuroscience research, which gives him a more holistic handle on the challenge of trauma-informed care. For example, he explained that young people in neighborhoods like his were twice as likely to have PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, than a veteran returning from Iraq. He points out that while the “P” applies to the war veteran, it may not for many young people who never escape their trauma.

 

Finally, I found his perspective persuasive because he drew on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a powerful way. He explains that in order to learn and “self-actualize” (the goal of education and the top of Maslow’s pyramid) students need to have all the subsequent layers—including nutrition, shelter, love, and more—in place. Too often we only train and evaluate our educators based on the top of the pyramid, when the building blocks beneath that, the necessary preconditions to getting there, are largely ignored. As Rodel looks to get smarter about the role of social and emotional learning in the lives of children and the adults that serve them, this was a profound takeaway.

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