Learning

Antwone Fisher (2002) and Black Male Mentorship

Antwone Fisher

Image courtesy of tvlistings.zap2it.com

Antwone Fisher (2002) offers one powerful example of how effective Black male mentorship looks in praxis.  This film marks the debut of Denzel Washington as a director.  Washington also stars in the film as psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport.  Derek Luke (Antwone “Fish” Fisher) begins his Hollywood debut in this film.  The inspiration for the film emerges from the true story of Antwone Fisher (the screenwriter) and is based on his autobiographical work Finding Fish.  The film is produced by Denzel Washington, Nancy Paloian and Todd Black.

The story centers on Antwone “Fish” Fisher (Derek Luke), a young man in the Navy with a deeply complex and troubling past.  His father was murdered before he was born and his mother was incarcerated soon after his father’s death.  Fish’s teenage mother, Eva Mae Fisher (Viola Davis), gave birth to him while she was incarcerated.  While she was in jail, Antwone was put in an orphanage until his mother was released.  Unfortunately, she never claimed him when she was released from jail and he was placed in foster care at the age of two.  His foster parents, who claimed to be Christians, were Mr. and Mrs. Tate (Ellis Williams and Novella Nelson).  Mrs. Tate’s claim to be a Christian was exposed by her many years of mental and physical abuse of Fisher until he departed from her home at 14 years old.  Antwone also experienced sexual abuse and molestation by an African American woman who Mrs. Tate left him in her care when she had to leave for work.  Mr. Tate is oddly absent from the home while all of the dominant action takes place.  Presumably, he’s out working long hours.  Antwone leaves his foster home in search of freedom from mental, physical and sexual abuse.

Fish lives on the street for a few years before he resolves to join the United States Navy to chart a new course in his life.  As is understandable, his turbulent childhood causes him to struggle with an unbecoming temper.  He gets into fights with a few sailors and is demoted, fined and restricted to the ship for 45 days.  As a part of his punishment, his commanding officer mandates that he receives physiatrist treatment from Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington).  Through Dr. Davenport’s work with Fisher, he’s able to achieve success and liberation from his oppressive past, and is able to enjoy a relationship with a woman—despite how his childhood sexual abuse and molestation complicate having a relationship with a woman and her touch.

Dr. Davenport is depicted as a strong leader, smart, disciplined, and compassionate.  He’s willing to move from just doing his professional work to using that professional work for charitable service.  Davenport sees a need in ameliorating the life of this young brother who is vexed by his childhood.  While it may be easy for some people who have never had similar childhood experiences as Fisher to say he simply needed to get over his past, it’s far more complicated than that and this type of thinking lacks sophistication and compassion.

We need more black men to assume a real life mentorship role as Dr. Davenport does in the film.  Davenport did not have to go beyond his professional sessions with Fisher, but he understood his linked fate to Antwone.  He understood that when young black men like Fish are struggling, he’s struggling too.  Dr. Davenport reflects a potent sense of community and he uses mentorship as a vehicle for promoting community improvement.

Although the film ends with your typical happy ending, its exploration of the life of Antwone Fisher brings to the national scene many of the experiences young black males confront.  Unfortunately, many young black males resort to negative means of coping with these experiences.  Too many black men are neglecting an opportunity to improve the plight of underprivileged young black males.

Dr. Davenport was instrumental in helping Fisher to become a reflective thinker and learner.  He taught Fisher how to think about his past experiences in empowering ways rather than in depressing ways.  Although Dr. Davenport is a psychiatrist, black men don’t need to be one to have an auspicious impact on the behavior and educational experiences of black males.  It was not so much Davenport’s educational background that enabled him to instigate a change in the life of Fisher; it was more about his will to answer the call of leadership and responsibility of mentorship.  Asa Grant Hillard, III always reminded black people about the importance of having the will to make change happen, and how vital having this will is to ameliorating black male academic achievement.

When one situates Fisher’s entrance into the Navy in our present moment, he would be required to complete his high school diploma.  Joining the Navy in any period in American history promotes learning and positive progression.  While we certainly want to increase the number of African American men who enroll in higher education institutions, there are other successful paths for them to select, which, of course, include military service.  What’s important is for more black males to be redirected from being ravished by nihilism to paths of advancement, which learning—both formal and informal—must be central to those paths.

More committed African-American male mentors, such as Dr. Davenport, can aid in more black males moving from embracing nihilism and replacing it with achievement.  Antwone Fisher provides one valuable example of positive and effective black male mentorship and the redeeming value of mentorship at its best.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic Learners

1. Kinesthetic learners enjoy using manipulatives.

2. Kinesthetic learners speak with their hands and with gestures.

3. Kinesthetic learners remember what was done but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen.

4. Kinesthetic learners will try new things.

5. Kinesthetic learners rely on what they can directly experience, do or perform.

6. Kinesthetic learners are outgoing and expressive by nature.

7. Kinesthetic learners tend to be messy in habits and dress.

8. Kinesthetic learners are uncomfortable in classrooms where they lack hands-on experience.

9. Kinesthetic learners like physical rewards.

10. Kinesthetic learners need to be active and in motion.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Characteristics of Visual Learners

Visual Learners

1.  Visual learners like to read.

2.  Visual learners take copious notes.

3.  Visual learners often close their eyes to visualize or remember.

4.  Visual learners are usually good spellers.

5.  Visual learners like to see what they are reading.

6.  Visual learners tend to value planning and organization.

7.  Visual learners are meticulous, neat in appearance.

8.  Visual learners notice details.

9.  Visual learners find something to watch when bored.

10. Visual learners find quiet, passive surroundings ideal.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Characteristics of Auditory Learners

Auditory Learners

 

1.  Auditory learners like to be read to.

 

2.  Auditory learners sit where they can hear.

 

3.  Auditory learners are most likely to read aloud or subvocalize when they read.

 

4.  Auditory learners enjoy music.

 

5.  Auditory learners acquire information primarily through sound.

 

6.  Auditory learners are easily distracted by noises.

 

7.  Auditory learners may not coordinate colors or clothes, but can explain what they are wearing and why.

 

8.  Auditory learners enjoy listening activities.

 

9.  Auditory learners enjoy talking.

 

10.   Auditory learners hum or talk to themselves or others when bored.

 

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Fool No More

There comes a time when you have to show people how important you are to them.  Many people will try to take advantage of you and you need to respond to those people by having some fun at their expense.  The one thing you can do to have some fun at their expense is to take everything away from them that you give to them.  If it is possible, you can simply remove yourself from them by not communicating with them and keeping your distance from them.  While they may attempt to act like your failure to communicate with them and hang around them has no impact, their internal truths unveil to them that your presence in their lives is truly vital.

Why should you have some fun at the expense of people who fail to appreciate you for what you truly mean in their lives?  Well, at some point, you have to stop being people’s play toy and begin to show folks that you have backbone.  If you do choose to do something for them while you are toying with them, require them to do things in exchange for what they want from you that you know they really do not want to do.  While they may not do what you ask them to do, you can simply enjoy the experience of them acting like they do not need you when they decline to do what you ask them to do, or you can simply sit back and gain great satisfaction in watching them do the things you know they do not want to do.  Is this really being cruel to these individuals?  Not at all!  They were not concerned with how they were treating you, so do not waste a whole lot of time thinking about what your fun at their expense is doing to them.  You have spent enough time worrying about them.  Take the time, energy, and resources you invest in them and devote them more to yourself and deserving people.

Now, if you have family and friends who have been underappreciating you, then you cannot simply let them continue to do this.  You have to make up in your mind that enough is enough!  Don’t let even the closest family member and friend take advantage of you any longer.  When close family and friends are trying to take advantage of you, you need to reconsider just how close you need to remain to them.  It’s okay to distance yourself completely from close family members and friends.  Let them feel what life is like without you.  They may just learn how to show you they appreciate you.

Before you begin to communicate and/or hang around these people again, make sure they have conspicuously evinced that they learned what it means to appreciate you.  For those people who want to keep acting like they don’t need you in their lives, then let them continue to suffer without you being in their lives.  Continue to enjoy watching them try to scramble to make things work for themselves when they know life is so much more difficult without what you have so generously provided and provide for them.

While it may be an ugly truth you don’t want to face, you must face it: refuse to continue to be people’s fool.  Turn the people who have tried to make you a fool into the true fools. Refuse to be used! Refuse to lose!  You cannot win in life when you keep letting everyone leech off of you and take advantage of you.  There’s a clear difference between being nice and being stupid.  Learn the difference and put your learning into practice.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month: Stephen C. Newbold, Jr.

Each month, one person is honored here at Revolutionary Paideia who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site. The person is bestowed the award of “The Revolutionary Paideia Person of the Month.” To receive this award, you must make a significant difference in people’s lives. You must be a person who matters and who’s unafraid to simply be yourself. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. has been selected as The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month.

At Revolutionary Paideia, it’s argued that people who are making a difference are not always the people we see and hear about in national media. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. is one of those individuals making a significant difference in the lives of children, but his great work goes without a moment of national notoriety. Mr. Newbold is not looking for notoriety either. He has a deep passion for education, children, and the arts that goes beyond any vain longings for national attention.

While Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. knew that he would be featured on Revolutionary Paideia, he did not know that he would be named Person of the Month. I normally don’t contact the people who are going to be named Person of the Month, but I wanted to do things a little different this month by interviewing the awardee. I’ve had the great fortune to follow Stephen’s work for several years now, and I’m fascinated by the quality and imaginative artwork he produces, his passion for teaching, and love of children, especially his love of disadvantaged children. I was tremendously proud to see that a couple of Mr. Newbold’s students recently came in first place for a digital photography contest. You could see how his creative influence and zeal for the arts resonated and shined through the vivid, beautiful, and well-executed images they captured. The images captured tell stories of their own.

Let’s get to know Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. a little better through the interview I had with him:

1. Where did you receive your undergraduate degrees and in what degree programs?

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 2005 from Florida International University. I also resumed my studies and completed a second Bachelor of Arts in the History and Criticism of Art at The Florida State University, which is the school I started my undergraduate career in 2001 and later transferred.

2. In what city do you teach and what grade level(s)?

I current teach Integrated Art to Pre-K – 6th grade students in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which is located in the DC Metropolitan area.

 3. Why did you decide to pursue a career in Education?

After completing undergrad in 2006, I was faced with the decision of extending my education or entering the workforce in order to support myself.

 4. What are your greatest challenges as an educator?

As an educator in the inner city for at-risk youth, it is challenging to service them when they are coming from a bad home situation. These children have a hard time understanding why math, science, history, let alone—art—is important when they didn’t eat dinner last night or there is no electricity in their homes. Another challenge is my age. I started teaching high school students at the age of 24. Some of the students assumed that I wasn’t an authority figure until I opened my mouth.

5. What are some of your successes as an educator?

In my first year of teaching, I had minimal skills as an educator. I was essentially learning from experience. My majors in Political Science and Art History made me “highly qualified” to teach social sciences grades 6th – 12th.  As I worked with the students, I was being educated in the field as a teacher while simultaneously being a student. In less than one school year, I received my Florida Professional Teaching certificate, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Four years later, I was certified to teach Pre-K – 12th grade students in two states. My prized accomplishment originated in my first year of teaching at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, the school in which I attended.

Teaching American History to juniors was sometimes a challenge, especially when these kids didn’t turn in their homework. My students were assigned a midterm history assignment. The project was due in sections; this particular day, section one was due. Needless to say, not even one student had his or her assignment. In complete awe and disappointment, I decided enough was enough; I was taking control of this situation. I asked everyone to stand up; reluctant and a little nervous they all stood up. GET OUT! Everyone get out of my classroom. You didn’t come here to learn and you won’t waste another minute of my time, get out. I had them lined up along the lockers outside of my classroom. I explained that there is no need for us to sit in a classroom if they were not here to learn.

My Principal happened to be passing by, well I doubt it was a coincidence because a surveillance camera was pointed right towards us. He gave me a look of approval, as if he was saying carry-on. I smiled on the inside; however, I was still disappointed in my kids. We stood in the hall for nearly the entire block when my students apologized and said they were ready to work.

After 4 years of teaching, I think back to that moment and realized that was the day I evolved into an educator and not just some teacher. I was able to allow my students to rise up to my expectations and surpass them.

 6. Why is Art education important?

Art education is extremely important on the elementary level because it gives a child an opportunity to explore and problem solve. Early childhood instructors teach students to color inside the lines and to keep their area neat and clean. I, on the other hand, encourage my students to color outside of the lines and, more importantly, to create their own lines. Rules, regulations and test scores create a non-expressive environment that the arts allow a healthy escape from.

 7. What community/volunteer service projects have you been involved in?

I work for the K.I.D.S. After School Program, Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region in partnership with Center City Consortium, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers and DC Public Schools, an exciting after school program in Ward 7 at The Ft. Dupont Ice Arena. I teach photography to at-risk youth in South East. I give them the opportunity to view the world through a view finder and aperture. Each day includes a healthy snack, recreation time, homework and tutoring assistance, and a one-hour thematic component designed to address the Center City Consortium power standards as well as the DC Public School benchmarks. Students continue to explore subject matter and topics covered in the regular school day through hands-on exploratory methods.

8. Do you plan to return to graduate or professional school in the future? If so, do you have any specific degree programs in mind? Any specific schools in mind?

I have been looking into some master’s degree programs in the DC Metropolitan area, but my ultimate goal is to attend law school. It seems like I’ve been putting it off because Education is my calling but it’s amazing how a person, an educator, trains children and young adults to realize their potential. However, what would become of me if I didn’t realize my own?

9. Who have been the most influential individuals in your life?

There have been many people to come in and out of my life over time. The nuggets of influence retained range from a look of admiration, a laugh from a joke I made or even rejection and disappointment. All of these lessons gave me the drive to keep moving forward. My college Spanish professor once said to me, “If you have a problem that you can solve….why worry and if you have a problem you can’t solve……why worry?” So simple, yet profound.  I’ve been moving through this life solving what I can and accepting things out of my control.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add that the aforementioned queries have not allowed you to say?

In collaboration with my students, I created an anti-bullying video and a life-size book cover illustration this school year. I have a photography and graphic arts business called NEW-Bold Imaging. My class motto is “Art is a process”—similar to my life: We have to work through our mistakes until they are transformed into masterpieces.

I would like to thank Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. for taking time out of his busy schedule to engage in an interview with me. As you can see, Mr. Newbold has his hands literally and metaphorically full, so I’m truly grateful for the time he gave to me for this interview. I would like to applaud Stephen for his great work and for helping to make a tremendous difference in the lives of disadvantaged students. You are truly a great man! I’m such a fan of your work. You inspire me to do better in all that I do.

It is with great pleasure that I name Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month. Keep up the very fine work!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Exercising Patience

Although many situations require us to act and/or think immediately and decisively, there comes a point when we have to be patient. We may not be patient people but some situations mandate that we be patient. I have to admit that I’m not a patient person. I do, however, understand that being successful and remaining successful entails being patient sometimes. I’ve been dealing with some problems for the last two years that I wanted to act immediately and decisively on, but I found that acting immediately and decisively on those problems would not be in my best interest. Yes, I could have solved those problems immediately but I would have missed out on what time has placed in my favor to address those problems with even more auspicious results for me. It’s almost time for me reap the benefits of exercising patience with several serious problems that I’ve let time work in my complete favor. Again, I’m a tremendously impatient person and a person who loves to respond immediately to problems, but I have learned that allowing time to benefit you on some problems will help you to address them in their totality and not just the surface level issues of the problems.

I understand that it can be hard to not immediately respond to a problem that emerges from someone doing something wrong to you. I am a person who has to work hard to try to calm myself down because I don’t mind popping you in your mouth in a heartbeat when you do something wrong to me. Over the past two years, God has been really good to some folks because they were supposed to be…(the Holy Spirit just interceded, so I cannot finish this sentence). Lol! When people do things wrong to you, I have learned that you cannot try to respond to them all immediately all the time. You will find yourself fighting daily battles and never having an opportunity to work on advancing yourself if you attempt to respond to all things people do to you all the time.

I’ve also learned to be more patient in my personal and business relationships. I’m so aggressive that I don’t really want to wait on anything. I’ll see something or someone that I want in a personal and business relationship and I’ll just immediately try to seize the thing or person. This is not a wise thing to do, however. Everything is not made to be seized immediately. You can actually disrupt the natural connection that you have to things and people when you rush your relation to those things and people. When you are as aggressive as I am, it’s vital for you to take a step back and think about how your aggressiveness might be perceived as a tremendously negative thing in a personal and business relationship. You don’t have to change who you are but you can consider how you might better position your natural aggressiveness to benefit you the most. You can allow your aggressiveness to manifest itself in other ways than just immediate reactions.

When you make a conscious effort to be more patient, you can learn serious truths about yourself. You might learn that the things or people you desired are not really what you need or want or what you need or want immediately. When you are not willing to exercise patience sometimes, you could prevent yourself from benefitting from the critical thinking you need. The lack of patience can really lead us to some ignorant decisions.

Of course, it’s essential to act immediately and decisively in many situations, but your dominant approach should not be to act immediately and decisively all the time. When you are always ready to make decisions immediately and decisively, people can begin to start to anticipate you; you become predictable. You need to have some level of unpredictability in your personal and business relationships.

Exercising patience is not being weak—it can often reveal your true strength.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison