The Power of Dignity in Education with Charles Payne | The LP: EP 9

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Does your image and definition of dignity align with our educational reality? This question lets us explore equity and examine the opportunities and obstacles that exist in schools, and how we can contribute to them. Research activist Charles Payne has spent decades citing dignity and indicting indignity in education, highlighting both so the people and the profession can make righteous choices about the ways we teach our kids. Join us as we discuss Dr. Payne’s co-edited and authored book Dignity Affirming Education: Cultivating the Somebodiness of Students and Educators. Together, we explore the impact of dignity-affirming programs and individuals, past and present, and their potential to shape the future of education.

Key Takeaways

  • Whole child education is a powerful concept, one that if destined to be a buzzword, let it be one where those who happen to do the buzzing, work together to develop the sweet honey of freedom, pollinate equitable practices, and sting oppression. 
  • One of the root meanings of the word dignity is holding an “honorable estate or office.” What does our instruction say about the estate of our students? Do we say that it is an honorable one? If not, why not? We must work to avoid undignified or “unhonourable” approaches to instruction from the estate or office from which we deliver it.  
  • The conversation about the International Baccalaureate made me realize that one of the greatest struggles in American education is expanding, duplicating, and improving programs that work. Finding and eliminating the roots of this challenge will permit the growth of grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful instruction to take place regardless of student zip code or identity. With scholar-activists like Charles Payne showing us models in the past and present, this opportunity continues to exist.
Dignity-Affirming Education: Cultivating the Somebodiness of Students and Educators
Charles M. Payne
Charles Payne
Director of the Cornwall Center, Henry Rutgers Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University–Newark, and co-editor of Dignity-Affirming Education: Cultivating the Somebodiness of Students and Educators

About Charles Payne

Dr. Charles M. Payne is a distinguished professor of Africana Studies and the director of the Cornwall Center. His expertise includes urban education, school reform, social inequality, and modern African American history. He has authored several books on topics such as the persistence of failure in urban schools and the organizing tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Payne is a respected scholar, featured on the Edu-Scholars' list of top education contributors. He is actively involved in initiatives promoting affirmative, dignity-centered education. With numerous teaching awards and prestigious positions at universities, Dr. Payne is recognized for his contributions to academia. He holds a bachelor's degree in African American Studies from Syracuse University and a doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University.

About The LP: Literature in Practice

UnboundEd's goal is to instill the GLEAM™ (Grade-Level, Engaging, Affirming, and Meaningful) instructional framework into classrooms across the nation with professional development, curated programs, and now with a brand new podcast series, The LP: Literature in Practice. Host Brandon White interviews the authors of today’s thought-provoking educational literature and connects the text to GLEAM.

About Brandon White

Brandon White is a former middle school ELA teacher and Restorative Practices educator for the Rochester City School District. He has worked for seven years as a servant leader intern and site coordinator for Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Summer Literacy Programs in Rochester. He has also advocated for these practices through his participation in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Teacher Advisory Council and through providing professional development at BMGF-sponsored Elevate and Celebrate Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Conferences.


Episode Extras

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