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Why I wrote “Teaching for Transformation — Teaching from the Heart”

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Why I wrote “Teaching for Transformation — Teaching from the Heart”

For a while after each class, a little vexed, my new teammates would ask, “How do you do it? How come people get involved so readily and so intensely in your sessions, and not in ours? The energy is so high, it’s exhausting at times. Why are your classes so popular? I want some of that power, that voodoo stuff. How can I learn? They would sit in the back of the room and observe. And then, they would try and reproduce what they considered techniques, to no avail. The response they received from students remained lukewarm despite their best efforts. They would ask me why, and I would tell them that more than mere techniques, my approach requires a mindset shift. Course participants react mainly to a mindset. My words fell on deaf ears. They looked dispirited. They gave up trying to emulate me, and chalked up the success I’d had to me being very lucky. And they resumed lecturing and dishing out unsolicited advice. The results they were not getting soon became a threat to their parts of our program. We had to have a serious talk. I started sharing basic principles and random ideas with them, which they soon dismissed as utterly impractical. Getting them to consider anything different  from what they’d  been exposed to became impossible.  The ideas I was proposing went against everything they believed about people, training, and learning. In their eyes, I was a heretic. A crazy person who simply refused to admit he had been lucky in the classroom. If that was true, then I had been lucky for 25 years. That is when I decided to write a manifesto, and simply capture my beliefs about what I thought gave me an advantage over them in the classroom. If they would not listen to me, maybe at least they would read my words on their own terms, I naively assumed. It so happened that the boss asked to read my paper when no one else on the team was interested. She had wanted to learn to teach and had never gotten around to doing it. She thought it a daunting task. a pipe dream even. A few months later, the boss requested to be included as an instructor in a new course we’d just finished designing and were about to roll out. After she facilitated learning for an hour in a session chock-full of pertinent information, the sixty participants and some of her peers, managers like her who had an interest in the topic gave her a standing ovation. She was impressive to say the least. Fearless, she owned the floor, caused people to show up in their brilliance through the insights they shared, and orchestrated the delivery of course content and class discussions until light-bulbs went on for everybody. She raised the room temperature by creating intellectual heatwaves. Her colleagues soon started asking where she’d learned to engage students in such a skillful way. In response, she pointed in my direction when in fact, she truly deserved all the credit for what she’d done. She had put in the work. She’d read the manuscript with an open mind and after much reflection, she’d applied what she’d learned. What she did for me that day was miraculous. She gave me the confidence I needed to stand behind my heresy, and she proved that my ideas worked. She confirmed the value of what had been peremptorily dismissed by less open-minded instructors. She adopted the mindset that helped produce the results she experienced, and thanks to her, my teammates found out that luck had nothing to do with high engagement. The novice instructor engaged sixty learners in an intense contemplation of concepts. She inspired them all to take the learning to a higher level, and to act on it. Her teaching career started with a bang! Thank you, Lisa A. D. (You know who you are!)

Excerpt from « The Unraveling »

The Unraveling 2020-001

Antoine overheard the conversation between the dean and his teammate. It forced him outside the circle of relevance. It alienated him. The insult injured his sense of belonging, and instantly made him the ‘other’. Overwhelmed, fighting the urge to jump out of his skin, caught between the fear of losing his mind and the fear of losing his job, he repressed his knee-jerk inclination to confront, and instead cowered in his chair. Antoine knew those voices, and tingling with resentment, slowly, robotically pricked his distressed body to check and verify. He saw their backs moving away toward the conference room. He felt betrayed, like an outcast even and could no longer do what he had planned to do that day or concentrate. He was numb. More than the comment, what ate him inside for the full agonizing year that followed was how he had cowered for lack of a snappy comeback. He had groveled and betrayed his own sense of morality!

L’ombre du Noir conservateur

Cette année encore, en 2016, nous avons assisté à la campagne avortée d’un Noir candidat à l’investiture républicaine. En 2012, il y en avait un autre, Herman Cain, un Noir conservateur favori de l’extrême droite du parti républicain, le Tea Party. Avant eux, il y avait, Alan Keyes, un républicain noir candidat à la présidence des États-Unis en 1996, 2000, et 2008. Michael Steele fut le premier noir américain à diriger le parti républicain, de 2009 à 2011.

En 2015, les élections de mi-mandat qui ont renouvelé la Chambre des représentants et une partie du Sénat ont marquées l’entrée notable au Congrès de deux conservateurs noirs : Mia Love, la première femme noire républicaine au Congrès. Une haïtienne américaine de 40 ans, représentant l’Utah et convertie au Mormonisme. Et, Tim Scott, un républicain de 49 ans, le premier Noir élu dans le sud, en Caroline du Sud pour être précis, depuis la guerre de Sécession et envoyé au Sénat.

Le feu des projecteurs se braque à juste titre sur le mouvement populaire de gauche « Black Lives matter ». Pourtant, ces conservateurs noirs sont loin d’être des anomalies, malgré un contexte politique qui les présente comme telles. Nous connaissons tous les ex secrétaires d’État, Colin Powell et Condoleezza Rice, ainsi que le juge de la Cour Suprême, Clarence Thomas. Mais, derrière eux se dissimulent une ribambelle de personnes connues et moins connues, les rappeurs, LLCool J., 50 cents, Nikki Minaj. L’actrice Stacey Dash. Les acteurs, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, James Earl Jones. Les ex joueurs de basket, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley, et Shaquille O’Neal. Le promoteur de boxe, Don King. Autant de conservateurs républicains. Leur parti tente, coûte que coûte, d’élargir sa base électorale traditionnelle pour assurer le contrôle républicain de la Maison Blanche dans les années à venir.

Il est tentant de penser qu’ils se sont simplement tous fait « les perroquets de l’extrême droite », mais qu’en est-il vraiment ? Lorsqu’on apprend que Martin Luther King lui-même était républicain, on se rend compte que l’image qui se profile demande à être élucidée. En apportant une perspective sur cette question d’actualité nous pensons faire un peu plus de lumière sur ce que l’avenir réserve à la communauté noire américaine.

Plus les Noirs intègrent la classe moyenne, et dans certains cas les classes supérieures, plus les rangs de ceux qui se laissent séduire par le conservatisme augmentent. On assiste à une résurgence incontournable du conservatisme noir. Les nouveaux conservateurs doivent leur bonne fortune à la politique du parti démocrate qu’ils soutenaient autrefois. Ils n’hésitent dorénavant plus à le rejeter pour protéger leurs nouveaux privilèges.

Convaincus qu’ils sont que l’État, malgré les bonnes intentions qui l’animent, empêche aux Noirs de s’en sortir ; subventionnés par la droite, ils s’attellent à convertir l’électorat noir à la cause de la révolution conservatrice. Ils se transforment en autant de chantres prêts à faire miroiter à la communauté noire une alternative aux organisations comme la NAACP, et à livrer l’électorat noir au parti républicain pour en garantir les futures victoires.

Ce retournement de situation inattendu, extraordinaire même, est en train de transformer le paysage politique américain.  Nous devons comprendre ce phénomène qui va en s’amplifiant pour pleinement apprécier la complexité de la communauté noire américaine et le dialogue qui s’instaure. Il marquera le 21ème siècle aux États-Unis.