Monday, August 15, 2016

On Resisting Apartheid

On Resisting Apartheid: After WWII, when many European nations started to relinquish their colonial empires (Britain, France, etc.), decolonization pushed certain parts of the world into chaos. For a country like South Africa, that chaos came in the form of resisting governmental policies. Although South Africa originally gained its independence from Britain in 1910, it was not until the post-WWII era that resistance to racial segregation (apartheid) laws began to build momentum. The focal point behind much of this resistance was the African National Congress (ANC), which served as a center-left political party in South Africa. Key figures who led boycotts and other non-violent ANC campaigns included Albert Lutuli, Nelson Mandela, and Steve Biko. In the 1960s, Lutuli won the Nobel Peace Prize, while in the 1990s, Mandela became South Africa's first black president. But it was Biko's role in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) during the 1970s which focused worldwide attention on the violence that apartheid policies caused (pictured above are people fleeing violent police clashes in the 1976 Soweto Uprising).

Monday, August 1, 2016

On Behavior and Classroom Management

On Behavior and Classroom Management: Unfortunately, terms such as "classroom management" make teachers sound more like business executives than proper educators. Yet part of the struggle here, especially with elementary and middle schoolers, really centers on showing students that their teacher is a human being too. If students can see that their teacher is not just a disciplinarian, but rather an honest adult who cares about his or her students, then classroom management techniques become much easier to implement. In effect, the main objective behind managing a classroom should be geared toward creating an authentic, distraction-free learning space that is governed by democratic ideals such as participation and respect. Common managerial tactics might include ignoring, proximity controlling, and appealing to a student's core values. Perhaps the two most important things to avoid when managing student behavior are sarcastic humor and yelling. At the middle school level in particular, when students are undergoing hormonal changes, shouting simply gets the teacher nowhere. If anything, yelling merely de-motivates students by subverting their self-esteem.