Kids of Color & Intellectual Intuition: Brought to You by Art

There are many stereotypes projected onto children of color. Black boys, in particular, have been statistically struggling academically at a nationwide level. There are some questioning why Black boys, and kids of color, aren’t performing well on standardized tests, while many have wrapped all kids of color into  boxes labeled “Deficit.”

Since I started teaching, I’ve been trying to uncover what’s getting in the way academically for all my students– particularly my Black boys. One, is performing at grade level; the others are not. This isn’t a new trend, yet, all have always been so brilliant– each holding unique skills that haven’t been uncovered.

My students been revealing their intellectual selves to me more each day. Or maybe they’ve always been revealing these characteristics, and I’m simply making a more concerted effort to uncover them. Whatever the case may be, I know that during today’s field trip to the Oakland Museum of California, I was mostly in awe and wonder of my students ability to interact with art in ways that I don’t think was expected of them.

Docents smiled at me approvingly as my students got excited when they saw Frida Kahlo’s, “Frieda and Diego Rivera.”

“Ms Peters! It’s Frida!!! We have this photo in our class!”

Then, they proceeded to look at other work and note artists’ varying styles, question some of the artists’ choices, and infer the different mediums that were used to create the art. But, really, I had little to do with their enthusiasm and their ability to interact with the varying pieces of art. Yes, I introduced them to Frida Kahlo, but I, unfortunately, have spent little time  teaching my students how to interact and talk about art. This sophisticated skill was intuitive.

Do others know that kids of color have intellectual intuition? Is this considered when discussions are had about how Black and Latino boys are underperforming compared to other groups of students?

By the look of surprise from some of the docents, I would assume no. Many times, even I underestimate what comes naturally to my students. But, as I eavesdropped on the two boys below observing and discussing art with each other, I realized that instead of focusing on teaching my students new things, I need to focus on bringing out their intellectual intuition.

Some might say  this is an obvious teacher move, but if it were so obvious, would kids of color still be underperforming at the level they are now?


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