Underpinning all of our activities is our powerful advocacy for children and youth. First and foremost we believe that an important adjunct to the Pedagogy of Confidence is what we call a pedagogy of hope borrowed from the work of Paulo Freire. We work with students, teachers, superintendents, central office staff, principals, building-based leaders. and communities to advocate for:
- High expectations for all
- Authentic tasks
- Active learning
- Instruction that maximizes opportunities to deepen meaning
- Literacy-rich environments
- Quality resources
- Schools that are connected with home, culture and community
- Problem-focused learning
- Collaborative and applied work on issues of deep concern to the students and the community
- Access to rigorous content and pedagogy for all
- Common Core Curriculum Standards
- Engagement in substantive dialogue, discussion and debate among students about instructional substance of content
- Peer and adult coaches and mentors
In far too many schools, underachievement has become the norm, especially for students of color. As Yvette Jackson writes in the Pedagogy of Confidence, administrators in these schools search for the magic program to save them from penalties imposed as a result of the low performance of their students, a situation branded with the pernicious label “achievement gap.” This label exacerbates the cultural myth that the only way to close the gap is by focusing on weaknesses. As a result, we have been obsessively misdirected to turn our backs on the vast intellectual capacity of these students and to regard minimum proficiency as the ceiling. In so doing, we dismiss two inherent truths about learning:
- All people have an intrinsic desire to learn and to be self-actualized. (Maslow 1943).
- All brains are the same color. Learning does not happen differently from one culture to another.
NUA aims to undo the harm caused when these fundamental truths are ignored.
We start with the premise that every child must be taught that they have the ability to learn and overcome challenges. We believe that every child’s intelligence can be nurtured through school, and every child’s spirit can be inspired by a teacher.
Dr. Eric Cooper, NUA’s president, says that
“Too often, low-performing children of color need rigor in school as much or more than the advantaged child.. Too often they do not get it. Because of misplaced compassion, or a lack of confidence in the capacity of African-American and Latino students to succeed academically with rigorous and challenging content, their curriculum is ‘thinned,’ and the pace of instruction slowed. Too often, rigorous expectations are lowered or avoided entirely.”
NUA honors all students by insisting on high expectations. We provide thoughtful, systemic professional development, instead of one-shot workshops, community engagement, changes in leadership, and the involvement of students through our StudentVoices program.
Contact us to learn how you can bring NUA to your district.