I sit in another—yes, yet another—meeting about how to get “diverse” kids into STEM. A meeting in a rich room in a rich university in a rich town. If poor kids just get into STEM they will be able to get a “good” job—and, you know, we really need more scientists and programmers. None of this is true, of course.
Let’s “hook” the kids with a CSI type game because you know how so many kids wanted to become forensic scientists because they watched CSI. Did they become scientists? No.
We keep talking about how we can “hook” kids with modern media to get them to stay in school, go to college, and get a good job. Yet a great many kids today with even good college degrees cannot get good jobs or any job. 40% are in jobs that do not require a college degree in any real sense.
We keep talking about how to get poor kids into STEM in a society that appears actually to despise science and evidence and regularly ignores both. In a country that has a record level of inequality, emerging third-world conditions, and lower levels of social mobility than almost all the European countries. The truth is that most kids—not just poor ones, not just minority ones—are in danger of being dupes and victims of the elites and of our current global casino capitalism and witnesses to the death of our land and seas, as well.
I keep thinking about what motivated people like Richard Wright at a time when they faced a violent blockade of their rights to citizenship, social participation, and human dignity. Richard Wright wasn’t motivated by CSI or media. He wasn’t motivated just by wanting a “good” job. He was motivated by anger and hope. He walked into a library and read books elites did not want him to read in order to fashion himself as an intellectually revolutionary innovator who WOULD NOT be duped. People who read Native Son often feared Richard Wright. I want to fuel kids’ anger and hope to make them people whom the elites, the dupers, the casino capitalists, and their pet politicians will fear. Fear, deep fear, not of violence, but of words, votes, demands, and loudly shouted “No, no more; I count and I will demand that I count whether you like it or not”.
The motivator is not the book or the media. It is a fire in the belly and the soul that leads one to what Cristobal Martinez calls—not STEM—but “techno sovereignty”. Richard Wright made himself “literacy sovereign”, no one’s dupe. With modern media of all sorts we can hope and help kids to get techno sovereignty. Not to be scientists or programmers, but to save the world and themselves. What about just one meeting about how to build fires in bellies and souls, fires that will spread?