“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” —Nelson Mandela
While we should strive to reach the aspirational vision of Nelson Mandela’s quote, the current day reality is there is a growing sentiment in this country by people who want to treat our children’s educational curricula and classroom resources like we do our Facebook pages – curating the information to only show and highlight the inspiring and heroic aspects of our country’s history, while ignoring and/or failing to acknowledge the problematic, challenging and, sometimes, horrific ones. When we teach students our country’s history in this manner, we do a disservice to our students as we provide them an incomplete picture and provide a narrow prism through which to view and, just as importantly, understand, both our country and the world.
The current model of our American educational system is antiquated, relying on past practices to address current day issues. This has a negative impact not only on how but also what students learn. Nationally, students have vastly different educational experiences due to the accuracy and accessibility of resources purchased by their schools and district leaders. Polarizing politics are increasingly exerting outsized influence in determining which materials reach students and what content is or is not taught in the classroom. Existing curricula materials frequently minimize, ignore, or, in some cases, erase the experiences and contributions of various demographic groups and populations. The COVID crisis and racial unrest in the country have not only highlighted, but further exacerbated, the systemic issues and inequities that exist in the country’s educational system, leading to inequitable resource allocation, classroom practices, and outcomes for many K-12 students.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” -Alexander Den Heijer
Despite these significant challenges, I remain hopeful and believe that, collectively, we have the power to transform education through public/private collaboration which can drive innovation and necessary change in the educational space. My company, T-Time Productions, plans to play a role in this transformative movement. Based on our unwavering belief that EVERY student deserves access to curricula that is culturally relevant, comprehensive, engaging, and accurate, we think we have an opportunity to proactively embrace the pivotal role that we, along with others, can play in helping educate our youth, while simultaneously expanding and enhancing their knowledge base, mindsets, and worldviews.
Our initial effort is a platform/curricula repository which utilizes an inclusive approach to explore and examine both historical and current day events/topics and to make connections between the two. We do not silo our content or suggest that it be taught only during a particular month or time of the year. Our curricula explore histories and issues related to demographics who are frequently missing or minimized in current textbook offerings. While the breadth of our content does not match that of textbooks, we instead dive deeply into the nuances of our stories/content. We also allow students the space to analyze, discern, and distill information from multiple perspectives and sources, resulting in a more holistic educational journey for all students.
I firmly believe that, rather than telling students what they should think, we should instead focus on helping students develop the skill sets that allow them to explore, assess, and analyze information to make connections between history and current day events affecting them and their families’ lives. For example, we should be helping students understand how the horrific and inhuman U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee (commonly known as the Tuskegee Experiment) left a legacy that has led to a current day hesitancy of African Americans to take the COVID vaccines and booster shots.
As a former athlete, I know that sports can act as a great “connector,” acting as a catalyst to unify groups of people who have little in common other than their affinity for a particular team or athlete. A key differentiator of T-Time’s educational work is that we use sports as the lens with which we step into our topics. Sports has the ability to transcend various social barriers such as race, language, culture, and socio-economic status and also helps develop emotional intelligence (EQ) characteristics such as self-awareness, social skills, motivation, and empathy. The American story is interwoven with riveting stories, some famous but others lesser known, of athletic celebration, achievement and defiance, all of which helped influence and shape this country. T-Time’s curriculum is built on the foundational belief that these stories can act as an engaging learning portal for all students.
I believe that we all can play a role in improving the educational trajectories and experiences of this country’s children. What can and, more importantly, will you do to help?
To learn more about T-Time’s work, go to: www.t-timeproductions.com
Theresa Moore CONTENT PRODUCER/EDUCATOR
Theresa Moore is President/Founder of T-Time Productions. T-Time develops and produces unique and diverse programming/content for various media platforms including television, film, online, social media, mobile, tablets, and gaming consoles. T-Time is also an educational publisher and is currently producing a multimedia digital curricula repository focused on providing more diverse and inclusive demographic representations and learning styles in the educational resources/materials used in K-12 schools, classrooms, and other educational environments across the country. In addition to educational publishing, T-Time provides professional development services for teachers, schools, school districts, nonprofits, and other organizations with a focus on culturally relevant, inclusive and equitable pedagogies, practices, policies and curricula. Moore is also a Visiting Professor of Diversity & Inclusion at Providence College. For more information about T-Time’s work, go to www.t-timeproductions.com