Essence of CRT

Update to CRT
Bluebirds are overrated anyway

Ernestine Hayes, author of Blonde Indian and Professor at UAS visited our class to share with us her perspective on the current situation in education and society as a whole as it pertains to the established colonialism that we see ground into our social fabric. It was a pleasure to sit, listen, and let her words evoke vivid mental imagery of the passages.

Ernestine is up front, opinionated and unapologetic however to hear such a strong voice is something of a shock for many people and could easily cause someone to get a bit defensive. I felt like that is part of the point though as she indicated, that there is not an easy way out of a bad spot; and we are in a bad spot. I can see why she is celebrated for she found a way to summon “the courage to show up”, do the work, face-off against adversity and win. A couple other nuggets that spoke to me outside of the readings were here break-down of how she achieved success stating that it was 1% genius which everyone has at least that much of, 2% luck (who you know, but didn’t help her), and the other 97% is determination (dare I say “bootstraps”). Additionally, sharing a personal story of success (her son) being built up from what sounded like a desperate beginning was also meaningful as her determination and subsequent success carried over to her son and will carry on to echo across generations.

Now, I know that we’ve spoken a lot about barriers lately but today it was refreshing to see and hear someone who has not only ignored the status quo, but has thrown a brick through that ‘glass ceiling”. Brute force isn’t a clean or delicate method, but sometimes just sometimes its needed to get the dirty jobs done. However, there might be a need to issue a disclaimer about the rules of the game and how the world at large responds to this or at least ‘charge ahead challenge the establishment but please do so cautiously.’

Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) Essentials.

Today we had the good fortune to be involved in a number of culturally relevant scenarios where we were exposed to culturally responsive teaching essentials. The importance of cultural reference was illuminated during both sitting in with the Culture Camp and the Elder Panel session as well as with the two guest educators that shared their wisdom with us.

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge the example that is being set for us. We are not only being told to set up our future students for success, but how to, through the various sources of encouragement and support we are receiving.

We discussed and identified several essential characteristics of CRT. Among the many, the two that stood out were accessibility and place-based lessons.  Making and keeping the opportunity of learning accessible to everyone is of utmost importance. We can ensure access by being prepared, extending lessons into other disciplines, and focusing on what was done right as the power our words can have such impact. If we too encourage students this way, we can facilitate their learning.  The importance of providing a place of cultural relevance cannot be under be overstated. “Keep it close to home” is another way to say it, as that is, “Where the heart is”.  We can engage the community and produce real products that serve that community. It would seem we are attempting to achieve the balance found some biological communities, a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. Communities of organisms living in close proximity to one another and the byproduct of how each of them live together benefits them all.



I will confess though my favorite take-home point shared by the Elders today is from Seitan. I believe his advice will not only be helpful out in the forest but in front of our students as well.

He told us about a bear in a berry patch, his thoughts,and his response. The point made, “It’s the smell of fear that makes the animal attack”.

We can show students love, compassion, support and encouragement, but not fear. This too may be ‘essential’

2 thoughts on “Essence of CRT”

  1. The only time you really have to worry about students attacking is in the spring when they’re drowsy, disoriented and hungry. Actually that pretty much sums up most teenagers at any time of the year. Hey, I’ll be here all night folks! Please tip your waitresses.

    But seriously, I do appreciate boldness and Ernestine Hays definitely has that.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Matt.

    I think it is interesting how people tend to respect and listen to those who fight for justice, if they are in places of perceived power or prestige (perhaps in the Western sense, Ernestine is now a professor, etc…) Would you or myself sit next to someone at a bus stop and truly take the time to listen, if that individual was speaking about the need for breaking down oppression? Connect that over to a teacher’s experience in a classroom setting…if there is already a perceived social hierarchy in the classroom (because a student feels like they do not have the right to speak/argue against a teacher) what would we do as teachers if a student were to confront our own knowledge?

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