Hi. You haven’t heard from me in a while. Life got in the way, you know how that goes. This summer was filled with surprises, twists, turns, and yet another journey brimming with lessons to be learned.
However, learning those lessons requires preparation, especially those of our personal nature and the likelihood we can truly benefit from those lessons based on our traditional education system frankly isn’t very good.
In fact, somewhere along the way we made a collective societal decision to separate the objective from the subjective, the personal from the political or professional, and we sanitize our education through a political correctness of limiting any discussions of personal introspection to the topic we study, instead of creating the possibility of personal transformation through the topic. It does occur, but infrequently, and not because our curriculums are built to do such, but because sometimes the person has a process to demand a higher level of self-inquiry that transcends what we are trained to do.
But it is that higher level of critical self-inquiry, which melds the self with the world around it, starting with the teacher’s personal transformation and not the student. That higher level recognizes the student is also the teacher and the teacher the student, but that the teacher must jump into the waters of personal transformation through any lesson before she or he can effectively create that transformation in others. Few are willing to pay the heavy price for such lofty outcomes, as it comes with a process that vents one’s personal pain, suffering, and routine through the topics first studied, then taught.
One must be prepared to make many mistakes along the way, which must include a process to forgive onesself after studying the error, drawing conclusions from it, and then assessing the validity of any claim drawn. One must prepare to investigate’s one own soul, determine one’s own values and purpose, including their methods for self instruction, before trying to tackle any topic through teaching. Read the rest of this entry »
An outstanding former Dartmouth College debater, currently the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, Neal Katyal, was part of the winning legal representation in the 2003 landmark Grutter vs. Bollinger decision. This was an important case about implementing affirmative action programs in higher education. The court clearly articulated where they stand on the complex legal position between diversity, academic freedom, and shared governance as noted by the American Association of University Professors, “The decisions also represented an important statement in the academic freedom arena. Not only did the Court uphold educational diversity as a justification for affirmative action, but it recognized the need for deference to educators to determine the best educational environment. “
We are just about fifty years between the time that the all three Branches of our Federal Government created the foundation for Affirmative Action in higher education. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), the Civil Rights Legislation (1964) in conjunction with Johnson’s embrace of Affirmative Action through Executive Order 11246 as a means of rectifying “the effects of past and present discrimination (1965)–all created a trifecta of government support for remedying past harms caused by slavery and segregation. Read the rest of this entry »
To much is given, much is required. Luke 12:48
Christian faith teaches that our rights flow from our dignity as human persons made in the image and likeness of God, and that along with these rights come responsibilities. Catholic Bishops of Illinois
Pay it forward. Benjamin Franklin
We hear these famous quotations and sayings all the time in a variety of contexts. The call for social responsibility might occur in a church, or a fund-raiser for our favorite charity, and certainly as a non-profit call to volunteerism like the recent events in Haiti.
But what about the concept of social responsibility in more mundane places like our jobs and schools? Especially in cases where one is given or not considered for a job or school as a result of society taking responsibility for past societal wrongs, what if any individual responsibility should accompany that? Read the rest of this entry »
Malcolm X once said that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Not all educational experiences, however, are of equal value. Some fill our heads with useless data, while others lead us to discover ourselves and our purpose. For attorney Elizabeth Jones, her experiences as a member of the University of Louisville Malcolm X Debate Team were of the latter group—she came to the squad as an accomplished student without a clear objective and left as an activist intent on eradicating injustice.
Liz, as she is known by friends, stumbled into debate accidentally. As a senior at Jeffersontown High School, located in a predominantly white suburban area, she didn’t have any particular interest in the activity, but decided to check it out based on the recommendation of an English teacher she liked. After several months of repeatedly losing to other schools in the county, she’d seen enough—sports and other extracurricular activities promised more rewarding competitive opportunities. Despite her team’s lack of success, however, Liz’s performance in debate was enough to catch the attention of Dr. Ede Warner, Jr., Director of the University of Louisville Debate Squad. Warner, who watched Liz in a debate round and was impressed with what he saw, called to personally offer her a scholarship if she would join his squad. Read the rest of this entry »
Almost a year since the event, the rush to judgment is still coming in from last fall’s MTV Awards: demonize Kanye West as a bad person and give Taylor Swift her wings and proclaim her for sainthood as an innocent victim of Mr. West’s crime. That’s what we tend to do in media generated events especially crises that are not personal to us: assign extreme, absolute roles and vilify or glorify based on those roles. This is exactly why we struggle with our ability to engage in effective decision making in a multicultural democracy. Our own lived experiences don’t match up with the way we rush to judge others.
When I was arrested, I felt the same wrath: extreme overreactions in how law enforcement addresses domestic disturbances, assigning me the role of the perpetrator and my wife the role of the victim. Those gender based stereotypes found their way into the media leaks, and even into the courtroom, as each has norms and procedures for how these systems operate that reinforce an absolute dichotomy that is simply false. Truth doesn’t live in extremes, it lives in nuanced, balanced places and our ability to find it must start with a process that can preserve the context of complexity where it rests.
Whether law enforcement decides not to ask the man his side of the story before passing judgment, the media conflating the meaning of an arrest with a conviction calling for consequences before the legal process played out, or informal judicial processes that create incentives to “overcharge” that generate pressure on those arrested to obtain convictions without formal legal proceedings, all of these are inhumane acts of administrative expediency to produce goals beyond just finding the “truth”.
My wife and I were two human people, each making some good decisions and each engaging in some poor behavior the night of my arrest. It’s that simple: but none of the non-human systems reflect that reality.
And that is a systemic problem with how we make societal decisions. Read the rest of this entry »
In March 2008, an argument occurred at the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship that became a popular youtube viral video resulting in the employment termination of Ft. Hays University Director of Debate, dr. bill shanahan (he chooses not to capitalize his name). In July, 2009, I, Dr. Ede Warner, Jr. the Director of Debate at the University of Louisville, was arrested on four charges, and later plead guilty to a different, lesser crime. I spent a night in jail and received two years probation. On April 27, 2010 the University of Michigan Director of Debate, Joshua Hoe was arrested.
Brazilian Educator Paulo Freire believes that critical consciousness comes from reflection and action. Scholar bell hooks (she doesn’t do capitalization either) says that purpose should guide our educational choices. My purpose since 2005, as stated in the mission of the University of Louisville Debate Society that I direct has been to “increase effective decision making in a multicultural democracy.” The events in my life over the last nine months created what I call “Lessons of an Affirmative Action Professor .” This lesson is about “Addictive Relationships.”
Today as I listen to ESPN discuss the possibility of Lebron James moving to Chicago and attempting to step into the footsteps of perhaps the greatest athlete ever, my thoughts turn to a broader consideration of what it means to be the “greatest”. LeBron James is being criticized for his lack of effort in his last game and for even considering the idea of trying to fill Jordan’s footsteps, while Jordan today is being revered as the best ever. As a lifelong Bulls fan, born and raised just outside Chicago, I would like to ask a question? Do you think Michael Jordan is human? I guess it depends on what day you ask. Read the rest of this entry »
Brazilian Educator Paulo Freire believes that critical consciousness comes from thought, reflection and action. Scholar bell hooks says that purpose should guide our educational choices. My purpose, as stated in the mission of the University of Louisville Debate Society that I direct is to “increase effective decision making in a multicultural democracy.” The events in my life over the last nine months helped me achieve that purpose through what I call “Reflections of an Affirmative Action Professor.” This reflection is about “shared purpose.”
The NDT/CEDA debate communities, the University of Louisville, and my personal and professional families received a lot of negative press coverage last summer, and I, I alone, am to blame for that. Part of the way that I take responsibility for my role in creating these problems is by sharing a story of academic excellence that has until now, publicly gone untold. The story is about race: a white female administrator who helped make come true the lifetime goal of a black debate coach, even when she didn’t necessarily agree with his methods.
The result was a shared path where even a greater purpose was created and soon will be actualized. While we tend to focus on negative race stories these days in the press, there are some positive ones that deserve attention. Read the rest of this entry »