My Quest To Teach

November 19, 2014

Building HBCU Intellect Through Blogging


Building HBCU Intellect Through Blogging
Part Two

Blog 3d text

In the world of digital creations literacy, reading, comprehension,
critical thinking, higher order thinking , analytical thinking
and common sense skills are important.
The direction of this series of blogs is the focus on the importance
of the integration of Social Media into the building of intelligence
and intellectualism in HBCU students.

There is a struggle to gain students to attend HBCU institutions and
the continued struggle to keep them, especially males. One of the
challenges is building the literary skills that allow students to embrace
reading, building comprehension and the development of the skills
they will need when HBCU students graduate, those skills that
demand the ability to think. Thinking critically, analytically and
embracing a higher order of intellectual abilities that transcends the
“hood” or “neighborhood” linkages that so many still carry with them
into higher education. This process of mental renewal and psychological
elevation takes time and dedication.

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As an instructor at an HBCU in Jacksonville, Florida; Edward Waters
College there is a critical need for this historic institution, to educate,
empower and provide a second and if necessary a third chance to
change a young person’s life through educational achievement.
Many HBCU’s struggle with how many opportunities to provide
struggling students. The easy answer is until they are successful,
if one student fails then the mission and vision of educational
success is diluted. HBCU’s are failing their missions if one student
drops out and fails.

Reading success can be obtained only through exposure and insertion
into the world of reading. The reality is that many HBCU students are
not reading on their desired reading and comprehension level and
lack comprehension skills on a college level, so these skills need a
foundation based not just on need, but built on a foundation of
connection to authors, storytellers, poets, spoken word and even the
integration of rap that provides an opportunity of lyrical and musical
expression. Making learning relevant is important so HBCU students
understand how to apply their learning, their education.
During this series of blogs I discuss authors, poets and others that
have contributed to “telling a story” that encourages thinking,
rationalization, understanding and taking responsibility for their own
growth in literary expression. This is not always an easy process in
education especially in higher education because of the lack of
exposure in middle and high school. Black students may be
exposed to literary works, but it is not offered as important to their
growth, more to the fulfilling of educational curriculum’s.

I attended a predominately African American high school in
Camden, New Jersey (Camden High School), the instructors there
emphasized reading and my mother a business teacher was a
voracious reader that encouraged me and my brother and sister
to read. There was a home role model and educational role models,
unfortunately to many African American homes and schools this
is not present. My children had models when they saw me reading
novels, going to the library and trips to the museum. African American
churches at one time also encouraged reading with tutoring, reading
teams and other inspiring activities. Too many of these have faded
away as the elders, seniors and educators pass away.
Stereotypes that say “Blacks don’t read” have to be overcome and
even applying more African American writers, Hispanic writers,
Haitian writers and Native American writers so students can
“see they have value and literary purpose.” Many students of color
do not make the connections to white writers and dispatch the
importance of them.

“The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in
a book,” a damning quote as we live in the Information Age.
Blacks have earned the opportunity to read any book on any
subject through the labors of their fight for freedom and liberty.
They have earned the right to write and blog to “write their stories,”
yet too many Blacks refuse to read and write. Allowing others to
write about them in stereotypical and bordering racists ways.
Black Bookstores should not go out of business, they should thrive
and be influential in Black communities and Black schools.
Black schools should have curriculum’s that embrace “Blackness,”
that teach cultural greatness and history. Curriculum’s need to be
important because HBCU students in many cases rely on the
truth, exposed to writers of diverse backgrounds that embrace
intellectualism.

Engagement is important and the use of multimedia tools like
YouTube are important so students can see and can hear authors.
As a growing and developing blogger even after 8 years and over
300 blogs to date with over 4000 followers nationally, I read and listen
to diverse authors to enhance and build my writing skills to make
connections to my readers that are diverse, not to gain the attention
of Brands, but to the building of creative thought and celebration of
intellectualism.

Many times I reference Chinua Achebe, Malcolm X, James Baldwin
and others because they are not the so called “superstars” of entertainment,
or sports, but youth even today can identify with their struggles for identity,
immersion in a diverse community and even address the colonialism
aspects of education, economics, religion and cultural heritage.
The only way for Black youth to be influenced is to read and contribute
by writing their stories and finding associations and connections with
readers of today and the past. Part III

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