Short film: "Under Pressure" by Theshay West

Humans typically categorize things as a way to understand them. The term "urban education" provides a way to discretely and acceptably label schools where "those kids" do, say and think in a way that their teachers don't know how to "fix." The continued proliferation and over-representation of White educators (more than 80% of all teachers nationally), often living outside of the communities in which they teach/lead, has generated cognitive dissonance not only for them, but for the field of education more largely. The sad truth is, the majority of those wielding the overwhelming power and given the responsibility of "fixing" urban schools are themselves ignorant of (and perhaps disinterested in) the challenges facing their own students. 

In this brilliant short film, the lives of two teenagers, both on the path to an ivy league university, intersect and are interrupted by events that alter their future permanently. They each come from differing backgrounds, yet their paths cross in a powerful way. As you watch, think about the characters and each of their respective journeys.

Do you know any students like them - why/not?
Think about the challenges each must have faced before intersecting in this film. Have you faced challenges like those - how/why/not?
Think about the support systems available to them or hidden from them. Did you have support systems available to you at their age - which ones/why/not?
Think about the assumptions made about each of them and how those narratives inform or influence their (in)actions and or the (in)action of others.
What role do you think their teachers/school played in preparing them to face and cope with the events that transpired?

As you watch, I encourage you to simply, think. Imagine, compare and contrast your journey alongside theirs and think about how your lived experience might influence your practice as a teacher or leader in an "urban school."

Short film by Theshay West. Music score by David Martin. © Copyright 2013, 2014. Film contains mature content/language/situations. Not suggested for viewers under the age of 13.

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"Biased people bias people. Better people better people." - David Martin