Tuesday, July 30, 2013

first class...,

npr | Cornish: You take us back into the 1860s ... and in those days in Washington, D.C., what makes this place a fertile ground, actually, for the education of blacks?

"It's so interesting to think that — not interesting — it's so stunning to think that in the South, before the Civil War, you could have a finger cut off if you were caught trying to learn to read if you were a slave. But Washington, D.C., while there weren't any schools for blacks, they weren't going to stand in the way of blacks getting an education.

"So as early as 1807, these small schools started popping up in churches and homes. A lot of Quakers came down from the North to Washington. They understood that this was a place where there was an opportunity to lay the groundwork for what turned into a pretty spectacular education system for black Americans."

And it helps that there's this large population of free blacks already living there.

"Exactly. And they were fighting so hard to continue the progress of education. For a long time, there were grammar schools only and elementary schools, and a few free blacks got together and they saw their moment. Because after the Civil War, the U.S. government said, 'OK, we've got all these free black children, we have to give them schools.' So a group of free blacks got together and said, 'We're going go make a high school. We see this moment in time. We're just going to do it.' And it started in 1870 with four students in the basement of a church."

Now talk a little bit about what the goals are for this school in particular. From its very beginning, academic standards are just so incredibly high.

"What ended up happening is the first African-Americans to go to competitive colleges — Oberlin, Amherst, Brown, Harvard — they would graduate from school and have nowhere to go. Many of them came back to teach at this high school. My mom and dad went to this high school in the 1940s; they had a very different experience. My mother was born and raised in Washington, D.C. My dad was born and raised in Harlem, and my grandmother picked him up at 14 and took him to D.C. just to go to Dunbar, which many people did. People moved to D.C. just to send their kids to this high school.

"And my mom used to talk about having teachers who were Ph.Ds. You had the first three black women to get Ph.Ds; two of them went to Dunbar, and two of them taught at Dunbar.

"So what ended up happening was that these next two and three generations were these hypereducated African-Americans."

So the school was basically in a way benefiting ... from the glass ceiling of segregation. That these high-achieving African-Americans, they don't have anywhere to go once they get out of these schools and broken these barriers. And they come back into the community.

"It's a perversity of it, right? And it's funny because I stayed up at night, worried that someone would think I was actually writing a book that talked about 'segregation is a good thing' because it of course isn't, it of course was horrible. And that was the other part that I found so fascinating about this story. You had all these people who were so educated, speaking two and three languages, going to a school and getting an education on par with white student in Washington, D.C., but had these other restrictions on their lives."


CNu said...

So I'm constantly having to repeat myself on a point about the intractability of the free-falling hood that I first raised about 8 years ago at Cobb's Vision Circle blog and which I summerized to Bro. Feed again yesterday afternoon http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2013/07/black-public-intellectuals-up-in-arms.html#comment-980125237

As it turns out, this heuristic closely maps to what the thoroughly debased and evil Charles Murray has most recently written about the decline of American white folks http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/08/charles-murray-s-coming-apart-and-the-culture-myth.html

Only difference is that my sense of what's underway doesn't entail a genetic factor but does suppose a high degree of heritability as logic, language, values, and culture are instilled in children by their parents in the home and surrounding neighborhood precincts which we might consider the extended phenotype of the home environment.

CNu said...

Never forget just how fully and completely evil Murray has endeavored to be http://shameproject.com/profile/charles-murray/

CNu said...

lol, http://youtu.be/sJZiygvTZ9o

Whether black, white, or purple, the inescapable truth appears to be that when the best and brightest are segregated or self-segregate from the hump and the tail of the bell curve, the whole societal enterprise begins to degrade.

So what is the answer Umbra? Compel the best and brightest to mingle with the lumpen dumbasses, or, prevent the dumbasses from continuing their dysgenic fertility?

Dale Asberry said...

Discontinuing dysgenic fertility. In the past, women would do a splendid job peforming as that filter. Monogamy and other male-dominated (including multi-partner) relationship hierarchies have considerably lessened that humane approach.

DD said...

Isn't this sort of what the Harry Belafonte/ Jay-Z battles is about? If we can change the cultural value of wealth to raising the social well being of others, then the arms race of wealth becomes about doing good instead of doing well. That's one reason I am a Rotarian. Rotary is for high level professionals but status within the organization is explicitly and implicitly about how much you give back, financially and with your time.

Making this more explicit across social classes, and also rewarding the most generous members of society with financial opportunity would do a lot to make this cultural shift real. It's not easy, but nothing of value is.


CNu said...

Are you working to resucitate Rotary? Because, correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn't the evil Murray's whole current premise that, white folks are in social and cultural freefall now due to the disengagement of white elites?

DD said...

First, standards of living are still generally improving in America, but what we all feel is changes in velocity. It's slowing down. I wasn't really familiar with Murray but I read your links.

Thought the first link and your analysis have it right, the genetic factor is nonsense but the cultural, behavioral, epigenetic tools for success hugely separate social classes.

What social organizations and groups that do the Good work aren't fraying around the edges? Doesn't mean they shouldn't be actively supported and defended as long as they contribute.


CNu said...

Years ago, my wife and I sat slackjawed through a 90 minute documentary which disclosed the extent to which the philanthropic industrial complex doesn't exist for the purposes which these purport, rather, they exist as the means by which the 1% can shelter significant sums from taxation while using these same sums for hedonic self-gratification, i.e., galas, events, staff, etc...,

I have not for the life of me subsequently been able to find that video though I've occasionally spent hours fruitlessly searching for it. If social organizations are fraying around the edges (I've been invited to become a Knight of Columbus but can't get with the conservative catholic hierarchy now back in charge in my parish) it's not for lack of money concentrated in the hands of the 1%. The reason these institutions are fraying is because there has been a substantive and continual erosion in the extent to which the 1% are engaged around these issues.

Murray is right in much of his thesis concerning the accelerating decline of white folks in America too. I think it's telling that an agent of chaos, hate, and discord such as he would feel obliged to call out the consequences of forces he's studied, utilized, and prospered by for generations.

CNu said...

Something else occurred to me - thinking along these elite "social good" disengagement lines. All that is required for a reprise of overt national socialism, is for the elites to continue along these lines, not sustaining the Rotarian incentivization toward the common good, and leaving the path open for increasingly explicit thuggery to fill in the vaccuum.

I'd say the civil war that Mexico currently finds itself embroiled in is a variation on this theme, the less well organized gang bangers and professional dope slangers in U.S. urban hoods, but nothing quite yet as unitary in its organization and purpose on the scene as the brown shirts were.

The social landscape is extremely fertile right about now for social organizations and groups who harness negative emotions toward doing the Worst work to once again bare their fangs and claws and get busy, don't know for certain whether that will congeal along strictly racial lines, or some other as yet fuzzily defined line of demarcation. I think black and brown is too massive for an Aryan reprisal, but some kind of overtly fascist formation will spring up if the elite social organizations and groups who do the good work don't take a more active role in shaping popular mores.

umbrarchist said...

If there is an answer it is these cheap tablet computers.


The problem is that selecting apps and content is the same as selecting books for the last 50 years. But now some kids can find stuff so much faster. And how many bright kids will be able to escape social pressure to conform to mediocrity.

That is why I leave suggestions even though I have had people complain and say the reading list is a waste of time. I can only find it very curious to wonder what kind of people would say such things.

CNu said...

As an insider, permit me to point out that the tablets by themselves are NOT the answer, rather, the tablets and an entire 21st century pedagogy which makes the most of the tablets capabilities (which at this point MUST include support for a Wacom active stylus) are required in order to push children forward into a contemporary culture of competence.

Can you imagine how a 60 year old, 400lb computer teacher who's hanging on for dear life in order to get that pension after 30 years, responds to the call to get up and move them old stiff yet greasy bones to a new and massively improved approach to teaching/learning?

umbrarchist said...

That is the funny thing about having read science fiction since I was 9 years old. I don't regard tablet computers as a massive improvement. To me they are mostly just an improvement on books. But they were not telling us the right books 50 years ago and still aren't. It seems as though they only select books that keep students dependent on teachers.