Monday, December 15, 2008
Giving Respect to Fannie Jackson Coppin: Black Women & Education
"I AM always sorry to hear that such and such a person is going to school to be educated. This is a great mistake. If the person is to get the benefit of what we call education, he must educate himself, under the direction of the teacher.'
"Never let the word "dumb" be used in your class, or anything said disrespectful of parents or guardians who may have helped the child...."
"Many a child called dull, would advance rapidly under a patient, wise, and skillful teacher, and the teacher should be as conscientious in the endeavor to improve himself as he is to improve the child...."
"The ventilation of the school room may be responsible for what we call stupidity on the part of the child. Let a stream of oxygen pass through the room and what a waking-up there will be! Sometimes if a child is naughty it will do him good to run out in the yard a minute. Remember all the time you are dealing with a human being, whose needs are like your own."
---Frances Coppin (all quotes)
It’s late and I am about to get ready to rest up for my fifth graders this week. The more that I teach the more that I am moving closer to a career in Education and not a life of academia in Women Studies that I had initially planned on (still looking to get that Ph.d BUT maybe not in that particular field).
I am constantly involved and impassioned about the education of Black children in this wilderness called North America. One of the facets that concern me is the instruction and teaching of children, primarily how the lesson is being taught and whether it has any valuable meaning to the child that is being "educated".
Over the last year I was introduced to an area of education called Womanist Pedagogy. Using Alice Walker’s inclusive term of Womanist and Black Female practitioners who have incorporated a Womanist Pedagogy inside their classroom where they integrate Critical Pedagogy and a concern towards their Black students from their essential bodhichitta teaching as a Black Woman.
Although the term Womanist Pedagogy is relatively new, Black Women as Educators is not. Recently, I picked up this book called "Black Women in White America" written by Gerda Lerner. In one section she highlights the communal achievements of various Black Women Educators, and their contributions to education. One Woman that is mentioned is Fannie Jackson-Coppin and her progressive work on Methods & Instruction. As I was reading Coppins and the other work(s) of Black Women, I realized that nothing that we are doing in the ivory towers is completely new. Although we would love to think for a confidence fluffier that we have found the “gap” in the literature”, our fore mothers probably did it and it just wasn’t documented.
So here’s to you Ms. Coppin and your home girls that started it all.