Monday, October 9, 2017

Conversations about technology with black boys

High school student conversing with project team leaders--Gaige Crowell and Rae'Jean Spears 

I was really pleased with the kind of one-on-one attention and then small group experience that the high school students received last week during our after-school program. Each of the undergraduate team leaders worked with a single student, and my graduate student Rae'Jean Spears moved back and forth working with the various students. Where else can black boys receive extended moments to discuss technology with African American undergraduates and a graduate student like that?

Black boys are usually talked at, and it often occurs in large groups. They are given instructions. They are given warnings. They are told what not to do to avoid trouble. But a discussion of media journalism and electronic devices and flat lays and podcasts?

Team leader Amelia Williams discussing a flat lay with high school student

When and if they receive one-on-one attention, it often involves some aspect of remediation or tutoring. Those kinds of approaches serve all kinds of important purposes. They're crucial. But then, so is something like what I've been witnessing with our after-school program.

I recruited undergrads and a grad student that I enjoyed conversing with well beyond this program. I figured that the high school students, too, would benefit by working with these wonderful conversationalists. So far so good.

But how do you coordinate a program like this on a larger scale? Maybe it's too early to even consider future, larger steps. First, I'd like to talk more with the high school students and the college students and see what they think the benefits are. From there, we might gather some ideas about what improvements and extensions to make going forward. For now, I just wanted to make sure I took note of these recent interactions, which caught my attention.

The East St. Louis Digital Humanities Club

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