Director of Research and PolicyVoices For Racial Justice
Hello Dr. Haysbert,
I am so grateful for this book. My godmother sent me this book about a month before I was to begin teaching a Race and Public Policy Course at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This was going to be my second year teaching the course. The first year was an in person format. The second year, due to Covid-19, was an online format.
The first year teaching the course was a difficult experience for a number of reasons. I knew I wanted to make significant changes during the second year, but I didn’t really know where to begin, so I had all kinds of anxiety and stress about that. Then all of a sudden, a little after my birthday, Dr. Haysbert’s book arrived. I read it and re-read it and studied it intensely. I reached out to my godmother, who sent me the book, and who is also a close friend of Dr Haysbert, and asked if she could connect me with Dr. Haysbert.
She did. Dr. Haysbert and I started talking and I shared with her how I planned to implement the facilitation method she articulates in the book, and how it would be a new experience for me. She could sense my fear and anxiety and told me that the students would be happy just to know that I was attempting to implement such a curriculum; and to just do the best that I could. She was absolutely right!! After I shared my teaching philosophy with the students the first day of class, which included me explaining the difference between the “traditional” method of teaching and learning and the “facilitation” method of teaching and learning, the responses from the students were unbelievable.
They were so moved by what they heard. Many of them mentioned that during such a tough political and economic climate informed by the upcoming elections and the murder of George Floyd, how inspiring and healing it was to hear a teaching and learning philosophy that would include their voices and cultures in every aspect of the curriculum – from design to implementation.
I made sure to communicate with Dr. Haysbert regularly, as it kept me inspired and motivated. It is so helpful to be able to speak to her about what I’m learning and feeling. I shared with her that one of the biggest lessons for me in implementing the teaching and learning principles of the book successfully is how courageous and vulnerable I have to be. It takes an act of vulnerability on the part of the teacher to tell students “I” don’t have the answers and “I” want to collaborate with you to make our teaching and learning experience meaningful and relevant to and for all of us.
It has been scary, but the results have been unbelievable. I am grateful for this book for reminding me that education can be fun and relevant and a truly democratic experience.
Brett G. Grant
Director of Research and Policy
Voices For Racial Justice