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(excerpt from my Demockracy.com article)
As mentioned earlier, Pedro Noguera cognizant of the implicit adherence to this culture of failure by the teachers and school itself at Berkeley High School, sought out to “make the familiar seem strange and problematic” as part of the Diversity Project. The Diversity Project task force was charged with improving the school. In one of their initial meetings Noguera writes that they “understood that the biggest obstacle to be overcome involved the explanations and rationalizations of this phenomenon that already existed in the minds of most people. Data on the attrition of minority students and on their performance in academic classes had been publicized and made available to the entire school and community for many years.” In order to make the school realize what it was doing, Noguera and the Project challenged the teachers to question their assumptions on why the students were succeeding and why they were failing. One of the first activities of the Diversity Project took the teachers through the neighborhoods where most of their students lived. The cultural and community resources embedded in these neighborhoods had been previously ignored. Even teachers that grew up in those very neighborhoods now saw them as breeding grounds for academic failure! The Diversity Project asked the teachers to look at these neighborhoods and their denizens in a different way.
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