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Smile Before November: In his new book, TC’s Christopher Emdin encourages urban teachers to be more like their students – loud, conspicuous and challenging authority

These are heady times for Chris Emdin.

 

Last week, Emdin, Associate Professor of Science Education, learned that he is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Award of the American Educational Research Association. Now Beacon Press has released his new book, For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood…And the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy in Urban Education, to glowing reviews from Ebony, Inside Higher Ed and The Hechinger Report.   

 

A former high school teacher – and before that, a student who felt misunderstood and overlooked in urban classrooms – Emdin sets forth his theory of Reality Pedagogy, in which he urges teachers to teach to their students rather than to a lesson plan. Warning against classroom sessions in which “the lessons are scripted and the students are quiet,” he prescribes “the 7 c’s” – teaching characterized by cogenerative dialogues, co-teaching, cosmopolitanism, context, content, competition and curation.”

But getting there can be a challenge. Emdin recalls his first day as a new teacher, when an older colleague warned him, “You look too much like them and they won’t take you seriously. Hold your ground, and don’t smile till November.” For a time, he writes, “my unabashed urbanness – loud, conspicuous and questioning of authority – became lost.”

He advises readers that “to be an ally to neo-indigenous” – a term he and others use to describe marginalized urban youth – “the teacher must unpack the indoctrination that we have all been subject to,” adding that “for white folks who teach in the hood, this may require a much more intense unpacking.”

Published Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016

Chris Emdin
Chris Emdin, Associate Professor of Science Education
Book

These are heady times for Chris Emdin.

 

Last week, Emdin, Associate Professor of Science Education, learned that he is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Award of the American Educational Research Association. Now Beacon Press has released his new book, For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood…And the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy in Urban Education, to glowing reviews from Ebony, Inside Higher Ed and The Hechinger Report.   

 

A former high school teacher – and before that, a student who felt misunderstood and overlooked in urban classrooms – Emdin sets forth his theory of Reality Pedagogy, in which he urges teachers to teach to their students rather than to a lesson plan. Warning against classroom sessions in which “the lessons are scripted and the students are quiet,” he prescribes “the 7 c’s” – teaching characterized by cogenerative dialogues, co-teaching, cosmopolitanism, context, content, competition and curation.”

But getting there can be a challenge. Emdin recalls his first day as a new teacher, when an older colleague warned him, “You look too much like them and they won’t take you seriously. Hold your ground, and don’t smile till November.” For a time, he writes, “my unabashed urbanness – loud, conspicuous and questioning of authority – became lost.”

He advises readers that “to be an ally to neo-indigenous” – a term he and others use to describe marginalized urban youth – “the teacher must unpack the indoctrination that we have all been subject to,” adding that “for white folks who teach in the hood, this may require a much more intense unpacking.”

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