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“The Desire to Soar”

“The Desire to Soar”. Cultivating Healthy Resistance Strategies Tom Robinson, University of Massachusetts, Boston Dr. Karl Reid, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Topics. Where this study fits within the literature Healthy resistance models among African American and Chicano/a students

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“The Desire to Soar”

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  1. “The Desire to Soar” Cultivating Healthy Resistance Strategies Tom Robinson, University of Massachusetts, Boston Dr. Karl Reid, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  2. Topics • Where this study fits within the literature • Healthy resistance models among African American and Chicano/a students • Research Methods & Participants • Findings: In their own words • General implications for practice • Applying the findings to your context

  3. Purpose of this Study • Shift focus regarding the achievement gap • Instead identify factors may influence minority student success • Offer a strength-based approach to minority student academic success • Explore the academic experiences of 40 Chicano/a & African American high school seniors • Develop themes that emerge from the student’s essays • In light of the relevant literature, discuss potential implications from the findings

  4. The Math Achievement GapAverage Math NAEP Scores • Gap between Blacks and Whites smaller in 2007 over 2005 • Remains relatively unchanged since 1990 • Gap between Hispanics and Whites relatively unchanged since 1990 National Assessment of Educational Progress: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2007/2007494.pdf

  5. Educational Pipeline Adapted from: Solorzano, Villalpando & Oseguera, 2005

  6. Pipeline: Latinos Adapted from: Solorzano, Villalpando & Oseguera, 2005

  7. Oppositional Culture • Fordham & Ogbu’s (1986) assertions regarding African American students in urban high school contexts • Hundreds of years of oppression developed a student identity that opposes covert and overt racism, especially within schools • Oppositional attitudes supported by peer group: “Acting White” • African American and Chicano/a students who resist academic engagement within oppressive school settings rewarded with group membership

  8. Research Concerning Resistance Models • Ensuing studies often did not verify or challenge Fordham & Ogbu’s (1986) oppositional model • Ainseworth-Darnell and Downey suggest that “it was as if researchers had presumed that an oppositional culture among blacks existed and so did not see the need for fair tests” of that theory (2002, p. 162) • Fails to explain successful students • More recent studies appear to coalesce broadly around three themes: • Reproducing Fordham & Ogbu’s (1986) results • Challenges to Fordham & Ogbu’s “Resistance Model” • Broadening the Resistance Model concepts

  9. Recent Research Concerning Resistance Models • Focus shifts from Ogbu & Fordham’s (1986) oppositional culture model as an explanation for the achievement gap • Racism from White peers and school personnel (Ainseworth-Darnell & Downey, 2002) • High achievers of any race are targets for peer pressure • High achieving African American students no more likely to be targets of negative peer pressure; instead receive support • Pride in one’s racial/ethnic heritage is a significant motivator for success

  10. Resistance Strategies • Numerous studies broaden the definition of resistance • Healthy resistance • Positive resistance strategies develop skills at managing the environment and responding to racism on a student’s own terms • Resistance for Liberation (RfL) and • Resistance for Survival (RfS) (Robinson & Ward, 1991)

  11. Summary: Resistance Strategies Oppositional Culture Fordham & Ogbu (1986) Resistance for Survival, Robison & Ward (1991) Resistance for Liberation, Robinson & Ward(1991)

  12. Primary Questions for Our Study • Is there a combination of resistance strategies that explain academic performance of high achieving African American and Chicano/a HS students? • If so, what can individuals who work with African American and Chicano/a students do to cultivate healthy resistance strategies?

  13. Methods & Respondents • Purposeful sampling of 19 African American and 21 Chicano/a high school seniors identified from a national pool of applicants to a summer STEM program at a research university in the Northeast • Each respondent answered two essays, creating 80 essays for this analysis • To what extent has your race or ethnicity influenced your academic achievement in high school? • Please comment on any significant experiences that have impacted your academic experience. • Pseudonyms used to protect anonymity of respondents • Essays coded using open (emerging themes) and axial coding (theory-based themes) • Validity of coding tested by additional readers (forthcoming)

  14. Results from Our Study • Respondents offered very powerful stories of accomplishment, perseverance and strength • Most common theme was the awareness of negative stereotypes • 30 of the 40 respondents mentioned awareness of stereotypes about their race and/or ethnicity • 30 respondents mentioned stereotypes at least 60 times • Sources mentioned • From White peers and school personnel • Within the media and from politicians • Racial and ethnic isolation within schools discussed by 15 Respondents • Only 6 of the 40 respondents mentioned negative peer pressure

  15. In Their Own Words: Stereotypes “Being a Mexican American isn't easy. I think that if I was white I could have had more academic opportunities. There is a stereotype about Mexicans, which is that we aren't that academically applied in school. I personally think this is unfair because each individual is different and capable of doing his own thing.” -Juan

  16. In Their Own Words: Stereotypes “When I go out with my white friends, I'm subject to ridicule and I’m called "pigmentally challenged" like I shouldn't actually be black, like I should be something else. So I’m faced with a choice, should I "dumb myself down", to be an underachiever as is constantly expected of my race or should I perhaps bleach my skin in order to be more socially acceptable?” -Diana

  17. In Their Own Words: Isolation “When people find out that I am of Mexican descent, they often have a surprised expression on their face. As if they think "only gardeners are Mexicans, how can you be in AP Calculus?" Though I'm not embarrassed of my culture and where I come from, I don't want people to think just because of my ethnicity that I'm just like the woman who cleans their house for a living. I am the lone Mexican in Advanced Placement Calculus and AP Physics; I have so much more at stake than my peers.” –Paulina

  18. Results from Our Study • Students showing high levels of academic engagement and motivation • Themes of Resistance for Liberation (RfL) & Resistance for Survival (RfS) clearly present • Most students identified a mix of strategies concurrently in use • RfL identified among 80% of the essays • RfL discussed more frequently than RfS (158 v. 24) • RfS identified among 43% of the essays • A more nuanced RfL strategy emerged • Exhibited characteristics of “Resilient Resistors” (Yosso, 2000) • Three RfL types emerged • Resistance for Liberation Internal (RfLi) • Resistance for Liberation Reactionary (RfLr) • Separational Resistance for Liberation (RfLs)

  19. Results from Our Study Oppositional Culture Fordham & Ogbu (1986) Resistance for Survival Robison & Ward (1991) Resistance for Liberation Robinson & Ward(1991) Oppositional Culture Fordham & Ogbu (1986) Resistance for Survival Robison & Ward (1991) Resistance for Liberation Robinson & Ward(1991) Separational Resistance Reactionary & Internal Resistance

  20. Results from Our Study

  21. In Their Own Words: Internal (RfLi) “They (African Americans) faced many obstacles and, through the story of the hurdles they have faced, I have learned to have the desire to soar. It is this desire that is evident in my diligence in school and all the activities of which I am apart.” -Stacey

  22. In Their Own Words: Internal (RfLi) “If anything, as an African American I am encouraged. I have a great sense of my history and I know that it is the story of a people who reached mountaintop after mountaintop in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It is the knowledge of this history that keeps me encouraged in the predominately white school that I attend.” -Whitney

  23. In Their Own Words: Reactionary (RfLr) “Being black in America has forced me to work harder than anyone else because I know that there are hoards of people waiting for me to fail. They wait for the moment that they can break my spirit with words of hatred, but I will not give them a chance. I refuse to give them a chance.” -Mercedes

  24. In Their Own Words: Separational (RfLs) “All in all, I would say that my racial identity has mainly influenced the way that others look at my academic level of achievement; I have not let it affect my own personal outlook. Racial identity should not be a limiting factor in what one aspires to achieve in life.”  Victor (African American)

  25. Fostering Healthy Resistance Strategies • Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1965) • Scaffolding Metaphor (Nakkula & Toshalis, 2006) • Mentors and Role Models helping students reach into their potential • Transformational Mentors & Role Models (Solorzano, 2001) • Willingness to engage with students and help them reach the next level

  26. In Their Own Words: Role Models “It was a Tuskegee Airman, Mr. Timothy Smith’s encouragement and inspiring stories that made me want to do better academically. It was his past that influenced my aspirations of becoming an engineer and helped me to develop academically.” -Martin (African American)

  27. In Their Own Words: Role Models “Periodically, I have had the opportunity to pick up one of San Antonio's monthly Hispanic magazines and have read about motivated people who have broken free of this mold. They aspired to be something great; and in the same way, I aspire to be a Hispanic who did not let other people's view of my ethnicity block out the light of my dreams.” -Francisco

  28. Fostering Healthy Resistance Strategies • Counter-story telling (Solorzano & Yosso, 2001) • “Telling a story that is not often told” • Put a face on a theory and practice • Challenge perceived wisdom • Open new windows into reality of those at the margins • Combine story and fact to tell an educational story • Counter-stories developed from four areas • Data • Existing Literature • Our professional experience • Our personal experience

  29. Fostering Healthy Resistance Strategies • Counter-Stories that emphasize • Family ties • Connections with history • Lived experiences within school environments • Multiple layers of pressure • Importance of Role Models and Mentors • Story of Hospital Summer Internship (Robinson & Ward, 1991) • Teaching a story; modeling range of resistance strategies • Developing reflection on a story that is similar to the lived experience • Infusing story with data, facts and strategic choices as well as a discussion of their possible consequences

  30. Summary • Literature asserts range of causes for the achievement gap • Previous resistance literature may have been too narrowly focused • Current research appears to focus more precisely upon school racial climate • Mentors and role models can support healthy resistance • Counter-stories as a practical tool for teaching healthy resistance strategies

  31. Questions & Comments? Thank You! Tom Robinson, Doctoral Student, University of Massachusetts Boston tom@trobinson.org Dr. Karl Reid, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Director of the Office of Minority Education kwreid@mit.edu

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