Improving Student Performance and Reflections on Yusef Salaam

On Friday, February 28, the College Advance will focus on improving student performance in the classroom. In other words, how can we make learning at PVCC more educationally purposeful and meaningful (creating context, expanding rigor, providing opportunities for application, etc.)? And how can we increase the level of active and engaged learning?  The Advance outcomes also align with the fourth pillar of Guided Pathways – ensure that students are learning.

Please know that our continued work on this front is the most important calling we have as educators. The biggest single indicator of student success, persistence and completion is the degree to which they are active and engaged learners.

On a related note, over the weekend, I was reading Yuval Noah Harari’s new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century  and his comment about the future of education caught my eye – “Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching the four C’s – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.” (p. 268).  Clearly these approaches support improving student performance. To this end, during the Advance we will explore how our curriculum and pedagogy can be enhanced through purposeful teaching and learning strategies.

I’d be remiss, if during this blog post, I did not comment on Yusef Salaam’s presentation at Phoenix College last Wednesday evening – attended by almost 500 students and community members (BTW, this event would not have happened without the leadership and support of PVCC’s own Eric Leshinskie and Carolyn Szatkowski). Yusef is one of the Central Park Five wrongly convicted of a gruesome rape/assault in New York City in 1989. He was incarcerated from 1989 – 1997 and finally exonerated in 2002 when another man stepped forward and admitted to the crime (with supporting DNA evidence).

As we continue to learn from this case in the context of Black History month, I was especially moved by one of Yusef’s poems shared that night – The Revolution Will Not be Televised when he wrote “…I wanted to bask in the task that set man free…”  The poem is based on the original musical work of Gil Scott Heron. If you want to learn more about this struggle and how little has changed from the 1970’s listen to the lyrics.

Exploration and critical understanding of the African-American experience is truly part of being a life-long learner. Please take the time to engage in our Black History Month events