It’s a thrill to read great books by scholars whose work is both theoretically rigorous and yet solution-oriented and solidly grounded in the day-to-day lives of students, families and educators. Mica Pollock’s Schooltalk is such a book. From an ICUSP standpoint it is also exciting to see our student programs, which enable students to set, pursue and achieve goals, are recognized for their influence in this new text.
Examining the ways in which we talk or don’t talk about students, Schooltalk provides insight into how our communication can help or hinder students as they strive to reach their full potential. Pollock argues that every student should be supported by a network of people who seek to provide equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of background, community, race, home life and any other factor.
Pollock refers to the equality of opportunity as equity, and invites readers to see themselves as “equity designers” in an effort to highlight the wide array of people whose talk influences how students view themselves. The book provides many scenarios, visual diagrams, and discussion questions in order to challenge assumptions and impart strategies for success.
ICUSP programs are featured in Schooltalk as examples that combat misconceptions and support positive self-image for African American students. Pollock includes a passage from the founding executive director of ICUSP, Dr. Kevin Foster, which discusses the work he does with COBRA. COBRA is a program for middle and high school students that focuses on scholarship and leadership. It allows African American students to work and engage in constructive conversations with mentors to help promote positivity.
Our group understanding is that there are many widely broadcast images that can come to define us, and that it is up to us to discern which images will help us become successful community contributors and which ones are traps that are part of what Carter G. Woodson called Miseducation.
--Dr. Kevin Foster, ICUSP executive director
Mentors help students recognize stereotypes so that they can instead focus on beneficial images that help them “become successful community contributors.” This support allows students to overcome miseducation and work to achieve their goals.
By showing students that they have the capacity to reach any goal, Dr. Foster and the members of ICUSP and COBRA are employing the strategies Pollock advocates for in Schooltalk. Pick up a copy here to learn more.