For the past year, Tiffany and I have been anxiously anticipating our time in India. Now that we're here, we often find ourselves pausing to take note of the fact that we really are in India. But why are we here? The answer is as complex as it is simple, but I think I've narrowed it down to two main points:
1) Teach in Balance: For the last eight years we have plowed through school year after school year, fueled mostly by the inspiration we absorb from our communities, schools, and students. Even our summers became filled with Tiffany busily working away on another masters degree at the various Breadloaf School of English campuses, while I facilitated teacher training on the west coast as an Instructional Leader at Teach For America's Los Angeles Institute. While we love our lives in Brooklyn and are passionate, serious educators, we gradually recognized that over the course of our years in the classroom, we had allowed school become all-consuming.
Inspired for a way to seek balance, I urged Tiffany to hop on our bikes and peddle to Patagonia. Although attracted to the idea, she was also objective enough to realize there might be other options, which would not necessarily involve seeing me in bike shorts for months on end. When we stumbled upon the possibility of doing education research through Fulbright, we realized this could be our way of gaining the perspective we yearned for, while simultaneously allowing us to engage in an intellectual endeavor together.
2) Teaching is Social Justice: As a 10th grade history teacher, I've become acutely aware of - and rightfully sensitive to - the fact that schools often teach one dominant narrative of history and neglect to incorporate a diversity of vital stories, leaving the classroom with a narrow scope of events and people. Feelings of disenfranchisement follow when some stories are told in favor of others; consequently, those students who do not identify with the historical narrative told in school may question their place within a national identity.
After all, my teaching career was born out of a passion for social justice with Teach For America in 2006; the fact that Black and Latino students do not achieve at the same level as their affluent white peers is the shame of our nation. While my community in Brooklyn is vibrant, I witness my students navigating issues of race and class daily. Embedded in this struggle is identity; my students are often first generation Caribbean Americans who balance what it means to be Black, Caribbean, Indian, American, gay, straight, man, and/or woman. The election of Barack Obama shook the mainstream image of what an American looks and sounds like and inspired my students to question why their faces and stories are often left out of our country’s narrative.
This situation is not limited to the story of American history. As a world history teacher, I find myself constantly trying to thicken the narrative my students learn. One of the most glaring examples of this is the story textbooks relay about the British exit and the rise of the orange, white, and green Tiranga, which shook the image of Indian identity in 1947.
My awareness of the limitations in such historical accounts led me to the Distinguished Awards in Teaching (DAT) Fulbright Research Grant. Before Tiffany and I knew it, we were spending days upon days crafting a proposal at our Brooklyn kitchen table. Thanks to thoughtful feedback from our many friends and family (who graciously became editors), we submitted our proposal (see Fulbright Research tab for details) and waited for a response. Five months later we got the green light and the reality of a six-month research stay in India settled in.
Whatever the outcome of our time here in India, this blog will serve as the story of our partnership. It is the story of how our marriage pushes us to be patient people, thoughtful educators, and eager students.
This is a personal website/blog. All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or of the U.S. Department of State.