Emdin: Know your student

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 10, 2016) – Teachers must understand the culture and the generational traits of their students to be effective, an associate professor at Columbia and best-selling author said here Oct. 25.

Speaking as a Brain Food lecturer, Dr. Christopher Emdin, who teaches in the STEM department at Teachers College, Columbia University, said the title of his book, “For White Folks Who Teach in the ‘Hood…And the Rest of Y’all, Too,” prompted an angry response from people, some of whom hadn’t even read the book.

Emdin warned his talk might offend some, but added even “if you’re mad, get up leave out, take a breath and come back.”

He said some middle-class folk go into urban spaces to teach without understanding the young people there. These teachers with their “superhero” mentalities (trying to “rescue” youngsters) act in way that forces the students to react with negativity.

He suggested using community pedagogies in the classroom: For example, a pastor doesn’t publicly shame a member of the congregation when he or she falls asleep; instead, he prompts the congregation to say “amen.” Once the members respond, the person wakes up and can listen to the sermon.

He also said educators should be held accountable for not having enough fortitude to hold thought-provoking conversations.

Emdin asked the audience to actively participate by tweeting, using # HipHop Ed.

(Jada Tanner contributed to this report.)