What ‘white folks who teach in the hood’ get wrong about education

Many white teachers choose to take jobs teaching in urban and low income areas with nothing but the best intentions. They do so to make a difference in the lives of students who are often neglected. Like many good intentions, this idea is flawed from its very conception. Dr. Chris Emdin, associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, sees many white teachers show up with what he refers to as a “savior complex.” Emdin criticizes the “white hero teacher” concept as an archaic approach that sets up both students and teachers to fail, and further marginalizes poor and minority children. Emdin’s new book, entitled “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too,” calls for teachers to take a new approach to urban education, one that focuses on teachers valuing the unique realities of minority children and incorporating their culture into classroom instruction. Emdin believes it is critically important that teachers learn about the communities their students live in, in order to relate to, and engage them, on a deeper level. The greatest part of Emdin’s new approach to teaching inner city youth is that it costs nothing. There is no need for a $3 million dollar grant or to put an iPad in the hands of every student. As Emdin says, “Teaching differently is free. Going into communities and finding out how to do things better is free, man! It’s not an issue of of wealth. It’s an issue of identifying that what we’ve been doing before just ain’t working.”  Read the PBS article here.