Education Sciences major Joshua Scruggs is from a lineage of educators. He shares his story and his evolving thoughts about education.
My entire life has been spent at school, on the way to school, or hearing profound stories about what happened at school. I grew up in a family full of teachers and other school personnel - folks committed to ensuring that students got a quality education. It was their commitment that quickly drew me to education.
I watched them serve in various capacities. I saw them serve as campus supervisors, janitors, principals, school bus drivers, teachers, and district administrators. I watched them transform schools, school buses, playgrounds, and lunch lines into spaces for out-of-school learning where students could recharge or learn lessons of patience, accountability, and humility.
At the time, I lacked the knowledge to define this kind of education. But I quickly realized that all students deserved those interpersonal experiences and it would become my life long goal to provide them to as many students as possible.
I mapped out how I could become a turnaround administrator in a low performing school district, where I could swoop down and single-handedly “save” all my students by providing them with the “proper” education and all the encouragement they needed to be successful. My students’ educational experiences would surpass my own or any textbook. I would manufacture spaces of indefinite possibilities and incorporate relevant social and emotional curriculum.
While at UC Irvine, I quickly realized that this "educational savior" complex plagued many schools. While it came from a place of genuineness, it lent itself to the subtractive schooling educators should be avoiding. Unfortunately, we have struggled to create legitimate school cultures and environments to promote student learning. While we should be teaching our students, we have underpaid staff and normalized intra-school violence, essentially leaving our most vulnerable population, our students, exposed or open to fall by the wayside.
It was here at UCI, that I set my non-negotiable on how I would teach. I decided that I would no longer “save” students, but that I would instead advocate, educate, enhance, and empower students in any of the roles I had come to serve. Essentially, that is what my family had done. Members of family had not strived to be Superman, instead they were Alfred to their students’ Batman. They had allowed their students to be their own heroes, and sheroes, while lending the occasional wise counsel.
This is the educational philosophy that I would carry into my current role as an undergraduate research assistant. I have made it my goal that from here on out, I would only serve on projects that saw the students as both talented and beyond capable enough to succeed through its promotion/maintenance of their critical thinking or strengthening of their existing talents.
I would like to thank my family. It was you all’s service that taught me how to lead and opened the door for me to become the future teacher, principal, superintendent, PhD, and professor that I desire to be.
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