DR. KEISHA CARES ABOUT COMMUNITY BUILDING
AND TEACHING WITH COMPASSION
In 2018, I presented a TEDx Talk in Hong Kong SAR titled, “Why we all need to start reading aloud to our kids.” I had over fifteen years of teaching experience and had researched literacy education globally for the last seven years. By the time I stood on that stage and delivered that keynote, I had spent years researching the power of reading aloud with children in engaging and loving ways, but I was not blind to the challenges adults face within the academically competitive landscape of education.
In my talk, I spoke on 21 st century skills* and acknowledged “we don’t really know what education is going to look in 2030…we’re trying to provide you with our best educated assumption on what education is going to look like and what skills students need to have to thrive in the future.” I spoke on the importance of reading aloud with children in early childhood, highlighting how stories can promote skills such as global competency by introducing children to the cultural diversity of the world through narratives that humanize the shared experiences and emotions of childhood in general. But the highest return on investment reading aloud provides is the magical bonding effect of storytelling on adult-child relationships overall. Bonds that can be leveraged into conversations that help children and adults navigate the social complexities of an ever-changing world. I ended my 2018 TEDx Talk with a call to action.
"But one thing remains the same. If you're willing to set up a tradition of reading aloud with your child, creating a pathway of storytelling [and] conversation, you can build a bridge. We don't know what the world is going to look like, but if you have established a pattern of reading aloud with your children, talking about civic events, using story time to have conversations, and when you notice your child may be dealing with bullying, maybe dealing with emotional issues, you can grab the storybook. You can sit down with that child, and you can talk to each other through a story, you can create a space of dialogue… So, my call to action to you all: in another five years… let's all come back with a story to tell about how we built a bridge that connects our children to a better tomorrow."
When I invited everyone to come back in five-years with a story to tell about how they built a bridge that connects our children to a better tomorrow, I had no idea how dramatically the world would change between then and now.
The COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted what we thought we knew about education as we saw just how divided our schools and communities were. Within the United States, we saw the rise of hate crimes against Asians during the pandemic. In 2020, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests erupted globally with the killings of Ahamad Aubry, Brionna Taylor, and George Floyd. While the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, shook everything we thought we knew about humanity. Sharp contrasts quickly emerged between the law enforcement measures taken against people who participated in the BLM protests and U.S. Capitol attacks, collectively gas lighting the deeply embedded issues of racism, bias, and inequity in the United States.
Dr. Keisha Cares is my attempt to face these issues and make a lasting impact on all that I inspire through my research and teachings. It is how I am determined to make a difference and honor the legacy of every civil rights leader who has used education to evoke change.
Dr. Keisha Siriboe
A Moment of Reflection
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