Introduction to Group Talk

Introduction to Group Talk

Does schooltalk about “types of kids” help us pursue equity or not?  It depends on whether we’re using labels to support young people. So as equity designers, our first task is to get in the habit of asking that very question. Keep asking when labels for “types of kids” enable student support, and when they get in the way.

Does this label use seem to support equity (the full human talent development of every student, and all groups of students), or not?

THINK/DISCUSS

Make a list of some of the labels you've heard used in a school community you know well. Now use our Equity Line to consider a couple of them. Do you have any gut feelings about which help and which harm? (What seems to characterize a helpful label? A harmful one? Is it all in how labels are used?)

(You might look at the Foundational Principles of Schooltalking for Equity, on page 8 of Schooltalk, and ask yourself: Do labels express belief in young people and care for them? Do they describe youth accurately rather than falsely?  Pinpoint a need? Enable opportunity? If not, the label use is probably a problem.)

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Featured #schooltalking effort

How Real is Race? A Sourcebook on Race, Culture, and Biology, by Carol C. Mukhopadhyay, Rosemary Henze, and Yolanda T. Moses, is worth a look! We all need to be equipped to explain how race categories were made by people. As I put it in Colormute, race categories are a social reality built on a biological fiction.

As I discuss in Chapter 1 of Schooltalk, many people don’t know one critical fact essential to equity effort: that genetically speaking, there aren't valid "racial" subgroups to the human species. We just have long treated each other as if there are, creating deep inequalities and real human experiences we now need to describe and address in schools. In this most extreme example of creating “types of people,” Europeans and European-Americans imagined human “races” as fundamentally different subtypes to the human species and organized centuries of resource distribution around that myth, fundamentally shaping contemporary inequality (including in schools) and creating a slew of harmful myths still requiring our attention as equity designers. Today, taking charge of race labels is particularly key to schooltalking for equity. Supporting young people requires both explicitly challenging these false and devaluing ideas about types of people, and recognizing our real and powerful experiences in a racialized world.

I offer a "gallop through 600 years of history" in Chapter 1 of Schooltalk to discuss all this. Check out pp 55-58 of Schooltalk if you’re trying to debunk the myth that our variations in appearance indicate that we are fundamentally different types of people on the inside!

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Featured #schooltalking effort

I met the thoughtful, committed faculty of the Bank Street School for Children when I gave my first school-based talk on Schooltalk. Since then, staff have done amazing work considering their schooltalk and its implications for young people.

Dean Jed Lippard reports: “We give pause to examine code words like ‘tricky,’ ‘difficult,’ and ‘challenging.’ We are applying a more critical and informed lens to our admissions and financial aid processes. We are leaning into the discomfort of asking for clarification when terms seem unclear or fraught. We are organizing to change the nomenclature of Columbus Day to something more values aligned like ‘Rethinking Columbus Day’ or Indigenous People's Day. We have published and are using the attached Language Values at Bank Street document as a teaching and training tool.”

Check out their powerful effort to rethink their everyday words.

Join us on Facebook to discuss!

Featured #schooltalking effort


I met the thoughtful, committed faculty of the Bank Street School for Children when I gave my first school-based talk on Schooltalk. Since then, staff have done amazing work considering their schooltalk and its implications for young people.

Dean Jed Lippard reports: “We give pause to examine code words like ‘tricky,’ ‘difficult,’ and ‘challenging.’ We are applying a more critical and informed lens to our admissions and financial aid processes. We are leaning into the discomfort of asking for clarification when terms seem unclear or fraught. We are organizing to change the nomenclature of Columbus Day to something more values aligned 

like ‘Rethinking Columbus Day’ or Indigenous People's Day. We have published and are using the attached Language Values at Bank Street document as a teaching and training tool.”

Check out their powerful effort to rethink their everyday words.

Join us on Facebook to discuss!

Featured #schooltalking effort

Identity Labels—two activities

Esta Montano at Boston Latin Academy has been leading a group discussion of Schooltalk with colleagues. She started Chapter 1 with two activities I thought were great infrastructure to share for many uses. She says, “If anyone has questions about the activities, they can email me at emontano@bostonpublicschools.org.”

Read more here. 

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Featured #schooltalking effort

 

Young people's thoughts about how educators can better support trans and non-binary students in school, from the Human Rights Campaign (#welcomingschools).

They offer some basic, deep (and universal!) schooltalk strategies, like asking young people how they'd like to be described; standing up against cruel talk and bullying; and describing/representing/inviting a wider diversity of people in class activities and curriculum.

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Featured #schooltalking effort

Highly recommended: an in-person visit to “Race: Are We So Different?”, a museum exhibit created by the American Anthropological Association. A group of new and experienced educators from UC San Diego joined me for the exhibit at San Diego’s Museum of Man. We were responding to the #understandingrace campaign by the AAA, urging people to talk about race in the aftermath of Charlottesville. Read more about what we learned, here.

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