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Episode 26: Family Roots - An Interview with Dr. and Mrs. Harrison

Desiree Harrison 0:00

How much do you really know about the history of education in the United States? What would you say about the populations public education was designed for and which ones were left out? How well can you speak to the origins and effects that certain policies, reforms, and practices have on communities of learners? I have to say that at the beginning of 2021, I thought I knew a lot about K-12 education in the United States. Maybe I felt this way because I am a product of this education, or because in undergrad my methods courses touched on the history of scholars like Horace Mann and Jean Piaget, and about desegregation efforts after the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954. Or maybe it was because I thought I knew the ins and outs of the educational system because I have spent my entire career as a part of this system.

Whatever the reason, I was wrong. I had barely scratched the surface of understanding and some of what I believed to be facts, were actually mistruths.

I have to give a Shout out to my professor, Dr. C, who this past semester taught one of the best graduate courses I have ever taken - called the Foundations of teaching and learning. Each week, He challenged me to explore the history of education in the United States in a way that I never had before - to challenge privilege, including my own, and how educational policy and practices ingrained in our systems uphold privileges for some and continue to ignore the needs of others. Week after week he asked thought provoking questions about my own experiences and how different learning theories, and agendas intersect with not only my K-12 education, but also how I approach teaching and learning as an educator.

One of the required books for this course, called- School:The Story of American Public Education - gave me the idea for this episode.

Everyone has a story to tell and I have been giving snippets of my story in various episodes of this podcast. Growing up, I never really thought about the “school experience” being that much different from my parents experiences. But I now realize that I need to understand more of my parent’s stories and how the teaching and learning of mathematics influenced their lives and indirectly, my life.

Today’s guests are Dr. Ernest and Karen Harrison - my parents. I have to thank them for taking this risk and allowing me to interview them and upload this for the world to hear a small part of their stories.

I hope this will encourage you to interview your families and reflect on how this history might be influencing your thoughts and beliefs about the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Transcript in Progress

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This was really informative. Thank you for sharing it Desiree. Your parents sound like amazing people! It was a joy to listen to them.

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