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Growing things and punditing: STEM Bits

One of the interesting changes in my career during the past two years has been the evolution from being primarily a policy analyst to profiling various solutions in the education policy sphere. A colleague recently called this new forum “punditing” —however as I watch the evolution of various careers in academia it is clear that being able to articulate solutions for the various forms of inequality is a pathway to a lasting legacy for children. There is the old political adage, “You can’t fight something with nothing.”

I have been on a STEM kick lately. I reblogged an interesting post by one of the faculty members at California State Sacramento Time to start thinking differently about math and science talent.

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In my role as the Education Chair of the California NAACP I have been working behind the scenes to put together a summer STEM program for high school students in Los Angeles and Oakland. (maybe you were wondering why I haven’t blogged as much recently) More details forthcoming on this new initiative that I have affectionately dubbed the Alice Huffman NAACP AT&T STEM Fellows.

My father recently retired. For decades he was employed as a horticulturist. Thus, my parents were (and continue to be) intense gardeners. During my childhood, I really did not enjoy this aspect of my family life— although I do have a greater appreciation for horticulture in my adult life. In my early years, I remember we would first garden in an urban communal garden in Lansing, Michigan. We’d even have to manually pump water out of the ground. My mother’s family initially moved to Michigan from Texas as migrant farm workers. So spending long hours in the sun were lessons my mother and father sought out to give me an appreciation of the work of million of people who provide food for our nation— farmers and migrant workers alike.

During my schooling years I experienced teachers struggling to engage their students in STEM classes. Kevin R. was in my 13th period Biology class, and I remember him being particularly bored and obnoxious in the back of the room. I also remember many students struggling to understand the relevance of memorizing facts without context. 

One of my other roles is serving as a governing board member for the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation.  A new NEA Foundation case study, focused on public schools in Milwaukee and New York City, provides a terrific way to remedy both of those issues: urban farming. My parents would be so pleased! In the experiential learning project, students grow their own food and learn not only about science but also about social justice, business, healthy eating, and sustainability. The recent case study demonstrates that urban farming can make a real difference in student lives. A few photos from the urban farming initiative.

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“[Students] were saying things like ‘I think college is something I can do,’” says NY-based Project EATS farmer and trainer Kadeesha Williams.

Also check out the NEA Foundation’s Urban Farming FREE book.

Thank you for allowing me to reminisce with you today. It’s also nice to have some good news once in awhile. Have a great day.

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Twitter: @ProfessorJVH

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About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (668 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

1 Comment on Growing things and punditing: STEM Bits

  1. Especially nowadays, now that farming has become so automated. I am thinking particularly of automatic feedback control systems, some complex but many quite simple.

    Like

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