EDUCATION AND LEARNING
Education is a form of HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning” o “Learning” learning whereby HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge” o “Knowledge” knowledge, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skills” o “Skills” skills, and HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habit_(psychology)” o “Habit (psychology)” habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education” o “Click to Continue > by InstantSavings” through teaching, training, research or simply through HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism” o “Autodidacticism” autodidacticism. It occurs through any HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience” o “Experience” experience with a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts.
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge” o “Knowledge” knowledge, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavior” o “Behavior” behaviors, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skill” o “Skill” skills, HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_(personal_and_cultural)” o “Value (personal and cultural)” values, or HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference” o “Preference” preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information” o “Information” information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_learning” o “Machine learning” machines. Learning is not compulsory; it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge. Learning is based on experience. Learning produces changes in the organism and the changes produced are relatively permanent.
Learning as a behavior or skill is depicted when we realize that the student and the mum were up by 5 a.m. to catch the bus to school. Mama has gone to different children seeking answers to help her learn why they behave strangely. Mama registers her disappointment, hurt and anger of betrayal, anger that her children are so critical they won’t even appreciate the presents she sends them. Education has helped the young lady know a few places especially as she now goes back to college. The young Southern black lady who had never been in a city bus, had never stepped on an escalator, had never traveled in a plane was leaving her small Kentucky home to attend education at Stanford University. It was painful leaving behind the Kentucky life she was accustomed to. Her parents were not happy with the fact that she had been accepted but rather opposed her going far away from home. They had feared what this college education would do to her mind as it had done to others much as she tried to convince her parents. To them, any college would do as long as it was in close proximity plus it is an all black college.
According to the young lady, she would graduate from college as a teacher, have a decent living and marriage. Much as the parents reluctantly supported her educational endeavor, they subjected it to constant criticism. They had proved to be so caring and supportive in a number of ways, it had not been easy to pinpoint their impact on educational matters due to their mistrust and being wary. Studying at Stanford University brought in class differences and there were very big boundaries not a single person would have wanted to talk about. They would quickly drag you down, have devastating negative effects on an individual’s performance. The class issues separated her from many fellow students. Class was not just about money, the values that were shown and which contributed to an individual’s behaviors were key. It was shocking to hear classmates talk negatively about their parents with no respect at all. Young black people were encouraged by the dominant culture to believe that assimilation was the only way to survive, to succeed. Speaking to persons in a language accessible to many folks as possible was so important. However, speaking about one’s personal experience or speaking with simple language was in most instances treated by academics and intellectuals as being a sign of intellectual weakness or what would be termed as anti-intellectualism.
It was disturbing to hear of intellectual radical’s talk of transforming the society to get rid of domination of sex, class, race which could not break the behavior patterns reinforcing and perpetuating domination. This brought about a lot of contradiction that raised up the issue of whether or not academic settings are places where people could be truly radical or subversive. The application of language and presentation styles alienated most folks who were not academically trained therefore reinforced the notion that academic life was separate from real life, that everyday life where there were constant adjustments of language and behaviors to meet diverse needs. The academic setting is thus separate when we work to make it so. It is false to suggest that academics or intellectuals can only speak to one another and that we may not be in a position to speak to the masses too. However, we make choices, choose our audiences and proceed to choose the voices to hear and the voices to silence.
Empty romanticization of poor or working class backgrounds undermines the possibility of true connection. Such is based on differences between experience and perspective and working to mediate and negotiate these terrains. Language is a critical issue for persons whose movement outside the boundaries of poor and working class boundaries change the nature and direction of their speech. It is important to stand firm in the conviction that nothing could truly separate us from our past when we nurture and embrace that particular connection. A good strategy for maintaining contact is ongoing acknowledgement of the primacy of an individual’s past, one’s background affirming the reality that such bonds are not severed automatically because one enters a new environment or moves towards a new territory of experience. The most tragic manifestation that black people feel to assimilate to is expressed in the internalization of racist perspectives. It was shocking and saddening to hear black professors at Stanford University downgrade and show contempt for black students, expecting them to do poorly, refusing to establish nurturing bonds. Such attitudes ended up frustrating bright, black students who ended up not doing well to their required capability. Assimilation was therefore the way to gain acceptance and approval from those that were currently in power.
Our first response when motivated to conform or to compromise within structures reinforced by domination must be to engage in critical reflection. By challenging ourselves to push against oppressive boundaries shall we make the radical alternative possible, expanding the realm and scope of critical inquiry. Sharing of radical strategies, ways of rethinking and envisioning with students, kin and community plus larger audience risks perpetuated the stereotype that we succeeded because we were the exception, different from our people. Absence of positive affirmation clearly diminished the longing to excel in academic endeavors. It is however important to differentiate between absence of basic positive affirmation and the longing for continued reinforcement that we are special. Sometimes we have to talk to our people about the fact that we need their ongoing support and affirmation, that it is unique and special to us. In some cases, we may never receive desired recognition and acknowledgement of specific achievements from kin. Apart from seeing this as a basis for estrangement, for severing connection useful for exploring other sources of nourishment and support.
Open, honest communication is the most important way to maintain relationships with kin and community as our class experience and backgrounds change. It is as important as the sharing of resources. The most powerful resource any of us can have is full understanding and appreciation of the richness, beauty and primacy of our familial and community backgrounds. Maintaining awareness of class differences, nurturing ties with the poor and working class people who are our most intimate kin, transforms and enriches our intellectual experience.