If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is

Source: New York Times

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Galenus, Avicenna and Hippocrates pictured in a 16th-century medical book. CreditBettmann

The vast majority of philosophy departments in the United States offer courses only on philosophy derived from Europe and the English-speaking world. For example, of the 118 doctoral programs in philosophy in the United States and Canada, only 10 percent have a specialist in Chinese philosophy as part of their regular faculty. Most philosophy departments also offer no courses on Africana, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Latin American,Native American or other non-European traditions. Indeed, of the top 50 philosophy doctoral programs in the English-speaking world, only 15 percent have any regular faculty members who teach any non-Western philosophy.

Given the importance of non-European traditions in both the history of world philosophy and in the contemporary world, and given the increasing numbers of students in our colleges and universities from non-European backgrounds, this is astonishing. No other humanities discipline demonstrates this systematic neglect of most of the civilizations in its domain. The present situation is hard to justify morally, politically, epistemically or as good educational and research training practice.

We each — alongside many colleagues and students — have worked for decades to persuade American philosophy departments to broaden the canon of works they teach; we have urged our colleagues to look beyond the European canon in their own research and teaching. While a few philosophy departments have made their curriculums more diverse, and while the American Philosophical Association has slowly broadened the representation of the world’s philosophical traditions on its programs, progress has been minimal.

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Perceptions of Muslims in the United States: a Review

Source: http://www.gallup.com/OPINION/GALLUP/187664/PERCEPTIONS-MUSLIMS-UNITED-STATES-REVIEW.ASPX?UTM_SOURCE=ALERT&UTM_MEDIUM=EMAIL&UTM_CONTENT=MORELINK&UTM_CAMPAIGN=SYNDICATION

By Mohamed Younis

DECEMBER 11, 2015

The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, has brought the ongoing conversation about Muslim Americans, identity and extremism back onto the national stage. Over the past several years, Gallup has conducted a number of studies on perceptions of Muslims and Islam among the American public. Gallup has also studied the Muslim-American community itself in comparison to other religious groups in the U.S., most recently using 2015 Gallup Daily tracking data.

On Terrorism:

In the wake of the San Bernardino attack, an old debate about the so-called responsibility of Muslims to condemn acts of terror has gained steam. U.S. faith groups have historically been divided on whether Muslim Americans are more obligated to speak out against terrorism than other groups, with Muslims themselves also divided on the issue. Yet when it comes to their own views, Muslim Americans are the most likely of all religious groups to disavow military as well as individual or group attacks against civilians, with large majorities saying these are never justified.

On Prejudice:

Four in 10 Americans (43%) in previous Gallup surveys have self-reported harboring some degree of prejudice toward Muslims. Prejudice toward Muslims was higher than self-reported prejudice toward any of the various religious groups tested. Additionally, nearly half (or more) of respondents from all religious groups agree with the statement that “most Americans are prejudiced toward Muslim Americans.” Muslims are also the most likely group among religious groups in the U.S. to report having personally experienced racial or religious discrimination.

On Loyalty to the U.S.:

While the debate about Muslim Americans’ loyalty and role in countering extremism may highlight some of the public mistrust regarding Muslim Americans, nearly half (or more) of all religious groups in the U.S. recognize that Muslims do face considerable prejudice, and a majority of all groups say Muslims are also loyal to the U.S.

On Faith:

Gallup’s research has shown that Muslim Americans identify equally with their faith and country.

On al Qaeda:

Additionally, a majority of all religious groups in the U.S. disagree with the statement that “Muslims living in this country are sympathetic to al Qaeda.” Other than Muslims (92%), Americans with no religious affiliation (75%) and Jews (70%) are most likely to disagree with the statement that Muslim Americans harbor sympathies for al Qaeda.

On Confidence in U.S. Institutions:

Interestingly, Americans who think their Muslim peers are loyal to the U.S. are more likely than those who question this loyalty to have confidence in a number of major U.S. institutions such as the judicial system (63% vs. 41%), the honesty of elections (49% vs. 27%), the media (29% vs. 14%), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (73% vs. 61%) and the local police (82% vs. 75%).

This apparent deficit of confidence in national institutions among those who say Muslim Americans are not loyal to the U.S. is particularly interesting considering the current political discourse. In fact, government incompetence has been a major campaign theme of candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who have been most vocal on questioning the loyalty of Muslims and the compatibility of being a Muslim and a patriotic American. Statements implying that Muslims must reject their faith to run for president or should be treated with broad-brush suspicion in the country’s immigration process have often come from campaigns whose major themes include a focus on distrust of government as well as government incompetence. Donald Trump’s suggestion on banning all Muslim entry to the U.S. is presented based on the reasoning that government has failed at executing a more thorough and security-focused immigration process.

On the Possibility of a Muslim President:

Interestingly, 60% of Americans overall say they would vote for an otherwise well-qualified Muslim for president, statistically on par with the percentage who would vote for an atheist (58%) but lower than the percentage who would vote for a Catholic (93%), a Jew (91%), a Mormon (81%) or an evangelical Christian (73%).

On the Diversity of Muslims in the U.S.:

As the discourse in the U.S. continues to focus on Muslim identity, loyalty and Muslims’ role in countering extremism, Gallup data reveal a Muslim-American population that skews young and is racially diverse.

A detailed analysis of the profile of 943 Muslims interviewed as part of Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 shows that Americans who identify their religion as Muslim are the youngest and most racially diverse religious group in the U.S. Some 42% of Muslims are 18 to 29, compared with 17% of Protestants and 19% of Catholics who fall into the same age bracket. At the other end of the age spectrum, only 4% of Muslims are 65 and older, compared with 24% of Protestants and 20% of Catholics. Muslims are the only religious group to lack a majority race or ethnicity, with 36% self-identifying as non-Hispanic black, 27% as non-Hispanic white, 21% as Asian and 8% as Hispanic.

On Muslims’ Life Evaluations:

Muslim Americans’ life evaluations are not significantly higher or lower than those of other religious groups in the United States. Data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2015 show that 56% of Muslims rate their lives highly enough to be classified as thriving and 4% suffering, roughly the same as several other religious groups, with the exception of Jews, both within the overall community and among young adults. Jews have the highest thriving rates of any religious group, with 64% thriving and 2% suffering. By way of comparison, 55% of all Americans are thriving and 4% are suffering.

On Political Leanings of Muslims:

The political leanings of Muslim Americans also paint an interesting picture. At 66%, the percentage of Muslims who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party is the highest of any major religious group, ahead of the 60% of Jewish Americans who identify as or lean Democratic. This contrasts with 17% of Mormons, 43% of Catholics and 39% of Protestants who identify as or lean toward the Democrats. On the other hand, Muslim Americans have the lowest percentage of any religious group who identify as or lean Republican, at 16%. By comparison, 31% of Jews, 72% of Mormons, 41% of Catholics and 48% of Protestants identify as or lean Republican.

On Religiosity:

Muslims’ religiosity — based on self-reported religious service attendance (42% at least weekly) and importance of religion (79%) — is on par with Protestants’ religiosity (41% and 81%, respectively), but is less than that of Mormons (87% and 66%, respectively), the most religious group in the U.S.

In the coming days, stay tuned for new Gallup data on the American public’s perceptions of the threat of terrorism in light of the recent attacks.

 

Just Say “No” to Popcorn Reading

Source: http://www.effectiveteachingpd.com/blog/2012/11/20/just-say-no-to-popcorn-reading.html

One question often posed to me by teachers is, “How can I engage and break up the monotony of long sections of oral reading in class?”  Great question!  As educators, we know the importance of reading aloud in class; whether a student is in 3rd grade or AP Calculus, hearing someone skillfully read sections of text promotes fluency and comprehension of both fiction and non-fiction.  However, reading aloud can be monotonous if we use the same method or only have one or two readers involved, as it renders most of the students passive.

Popcorn reading (randomly calling on students to read aloud-whether their hand is raised or not) is a common practice, though I recommend the strategy be banned or at least modified in the following way.  Some teachers assign a different section of text to be read by each student, the first student then begins reading and others don’t follow along and comprehend because surprise, they are all reading the section in which they were assigned. If a teacher insists on doing reading like this in class, then please allow students a few minutes to read and rehearse their part before anyone starts reading aloud.  This way, students will not be anxious about reading their section as they have already practiced, and once prepared, they can focus and follow along with the current readers.

Popcorn reading, when used as a classroom management tactic to “catch” those who are not paying attention, in my opinion, should never be used. It increases the “affective filter” or level of discomfort in the classroom as many don’t like to be “put on the spot” to read aloud, especially when so many of our students struggle with reading in general.  Reading should never be used as a management tool or punishment.  For more reasons as to why this method is frowned upon, please read Todd Finley’s article , “11 Alternatives to Round Robin Reading.”  

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10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read

Source: http://www.bustle.com/articles/153390-10-books-i-wish-my-white-teachers-had-read?utm_source=FBOnsite&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=1

I can only remember having two non-white teachers during my time in school. From my early years at underfunded public schools comprised mostly of Black and Latino students to my later years at private schools with largely white student populations, my experience as a Black student learning from white teachers has ranged from incredibly inspiring to incredibly damaging.

As a Black student in public schools, I had a white art teacher give me a failing grade on an essay project as he explained to me that graffiti isn’t art. I was kicked out of classrooms for “having an attitude,” rolling my eyes, playing with my braids, or wearing a gang-related shirt (it was FUBU). Once, I was kicked out of class for telling (and attempting to show) an incredulous math teacher that I already knew how to do the work he was condescendingly explaining… again. I had white principal who refused to sign the recommendation letter I needed to complete my application for a private high school. Let’s not forget the metal detectors, police officers, and zero-tolerance treatment that make many of these public schools feel more like prisons than learning centers.

But fancy private schools aren’t off the hook, either. As one of few Black students at the private schools I attended, I had white teachers show photos of apes and compare them to African women. I had a history teacher touch my braids and ask, in front of the entire class, “Is this horse hair? I hear that’s how they do that.”

But I was lucky. The experiences of many other students of color in schools often includes dropouts, pushouts, arrests, even violence at the hands of their educators.

Being a teacher is tough. Being a white teacher of students whose experience is foreign to you is probably even harder. But I’ve had amazing white teachers, too. I’ve had white teachers who came to my birthday parties even though it was the in “the hood,” white teachers who encouraged me to explore topics about my culture within the curriculum, and white teachers who didn’t treat me like a unicorn for solving a math problem. In fact, my favorite teacher was one who (after my principal essentially sabotaged my application to private school) explained the situation to the school and managed to get them to let me test in despite the incomplete application. She was white, too.

Unfortunately, it’s true that the whole U.S. education system is broken, especially for students of color, but what one teacher does in her own classroom can make a world of difference. Teachers have a responsibility to examine their own prejudices and learn about the experiences of and oppressive forces working against the students they are teaching. Because when we walk into a classroom, both as teachers and as students, we don’t magically leave our struggles and life experiences at the door.

Maybe you can’t change the whole system, maybe rigid curricula and standardized tests have your hands tied, but, as some of my teachers showed me, reading a book can go a long way. These are some of the books that I wishmy white teachers had read.

1. For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood by Christopher Emdin

Why oh why couldn’t this book have been published ages ago? The strategies put forth in Emdin’s book are brilliant for any teacher, but its call for white teachers “in the hood” to reassess the ways that they see students versus how students see themselves is especially crucial for white teachers of students of color. An educator himself, Emdin offers real solutions to help white teachers check their privilege and connect with their students.

2. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schoolsby Monique Morris

This book! So many of the things in this book resonated deeply with my own experience. Morris shines the light on a group that is often neglected in discussions of education issues. She highlights the many ways that Black girls are misunderstood, neglected, and criminalized not just by the system as a whole, but also by teachers who fail to see past stereotypes of Black women as “sassy” or “loud.” She also touches on the experiences of Black women outside of the classroom and how they play out in the classroom.

3. Black Stats by Monique Morris

Yes, it is crucial to look at Black students as actual humans rather than just data points or statistics, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know your stats, too. Morris’ heavily researched book looks at Black life by the numbers, busting up stereotypes and biases with numbers that prove certain commonly held beliefs are flat out wrong.The New Press actually followed this book with a Latino Stats book by Idelisse Malavé and Esti Giordani, as well.

4. Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

There’s a reason this book is a bestseller. It’s one of the most poignant works on Black life today. Coates’ writing about the experience of growing up and raising a young Black son in today’s climate articulates the feelings of a whole generation.

5. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

There’s a reason protesters at Black Lives Matter events are holding up copies of this book. The New Jim Crow reveals how mass incarceration has systematically disenfranchised, segregated, and stolen the lives of massive percentages of the Black population. With the school-to-prison pipelineputting more and more Black youth behind bars, it’s a crucial read for any educator.

6. The Mis-education of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson

The Mis-education of the Negro was published in 1933. Sadly, much of what Woodson describes is still relevant today. Woodson points to the harmful effects of a Eurocentric education system that teaches Black students to think of themselves as inferior, invisible, and detestable — an education that hinders them throughout their future lives. You don’t even have to buy the book; you can read it online over at History is a Weapon.

7. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

The eight stories in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere tell of people looking for truth, people trying to fit in, people with big dreams, people just trying to make it. Yes, most of these characters are Black. Yet, despite the absurd notion that Black characters are unrelatable, these stories are profoundly human. Is it sad that we need reminders that Black people are people? Yep. Do we still need it? Yep. It’s also just a beautiful collection.

8. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

While the story Alexander tells here is one of loss, it is also one of love and joy and family. Black people don’t see enough of stories and images of Black love, joy, and family, so I know white people aren’t seeing enough of these stories either.

9. The Sisters Are Alright by Tamara Winfrey-Harris

All too often, the gaze with which white people look upon Black lives is one of pity. With all the negative portrayals, hard realities, and racism, it’s no wonder. But Black people are not community service projects, and pathologizing Black students or looking at them like wounded animals is be damaging, too. The Sisters Are Alright counters the stereotyped narratives of Black women, celebrating them instead of disparaging, pitying, or insulting them.

10. The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein

If you want to change your future, you’ve got to know your history. Goldstein’s look at the history of teaching and schools in the U.S. takes on the hard topics, including the issue of race in the classroom and the necessity of teachers of colors in the classroom