A Pre-service Teacher’s Perspective on Urban Education
By Jenny Braun, Senior, Seattle Pacific University
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Since I was young, I have been interested in, and attracted to, different places, other people, and various cultures outside my normative setting. I cannot explain this desire of going beyond where I have always been except to say God, my Creator, instilled it in me.
Throughout my life, I have also had multiple opportunities to make connections with people who come from radically different cultures than my own — including people from other countries, ethnicities, religions, and those with disabilities. Then when I approached senior year in high school, I felt God put it on my heart to pursue a degree in teaching. After interning in a middle school classroom while still in high school, I realized that I wanted to use my interest in different cultures as an avenue for a career in special education and urban education.
The term “urban education” literally means schooling within the city, but the term is broad and can vary greatly depending on the context and the city. John Perkins teaches us that reconciliation involves understanding our need to relocate to community of service, listening to the felt needs of a community, and finding holistic approaches that include redistribution of resources. In my mind, empowering students fits with his model of sharing skills, talents, education and resources.
Because of my research, classes, and experiences, I have begun to adopt and incorporate a pedagogy of teaching that I intend to integrate into classroom practice once I teach in an urban school. My pedagogy centers around the fact that all children can learn — a mantra introduced to me by Professor Debby Hudson — no matter their difference, disability, cultural background, ethnicity, or gender. If I am to teach to a diverse group of students, I need to build relationships with those students both academically and personally through common experiences and interests. I want to incorporate how my students’ differences can make a positive difference in the curriculum, both relative and informative while teaching essential academic subjects such as reading and writing.
My journey in urban education in a special education avenue has been increasingly informative as I continue to learn about both of those subjects and as I pull from past experiences and relationships that I have now. I hope to incorporate all of who I am into my teaching, and I hope I can be an impact to these students despite our noticeable and internal differences, reaching beyond the surface level stereotypes of these urban school students to tap into their obvious potential as people.
I know I’ll be challenged to grasp and to implement multicultural education in a setting to which I have limited exposure. However, I put my hope and trust in Jesus, and I know that through him I will be able to do what he has called me to as a special educator in an urban school. After all, Jesus was the one who gives us the ultimate example of reaching out to people of different socioeconomic status, gender, and backgrounds.
Jenny Braun was born and raised in the Buckley, Washington, area. She is now a senior at Seattle Pacific University majoring in special education.
|Learn more about The John Perkins Center by watching the video This is the John Perkins Center on iTunesU.|