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  • Writer's pictureLasha Pierce MD

Exploring the Research- Creating a Narrative and Driving Research in Restorative Education

Updated: Apr 7, 2018

Restorative Education is the idea that helping students to identify and describe past

negative experiences around education (especially discriminatory practices perpetuated against them), and teaching them to formulate productive strategies to overcome potential harms or academic patterns stemming from those experiences, have the potential to affect academic outcomes.

African American students may experience feelings of shame or unworthiness due to

their apparent, well known educational disadvantage- which may lead to withdrawal,

aggression, avoidance and other self sabotaging behaviors. A new field of research is needed to study the potential effects that targeted Restorative educational strategies may have on academic outcomes. One of the critical components to AFRE’s mission is to encourage the study of the impact that Restorative Education can have on learning. Multiple researchers have looked at the impact of poverty, educational level of the parents, high stakes testing and a multitude of other variants have on academic performance. Many overlook the role that historic trauma has had, and therefore fail to study potential remedies related to that trauma.

African American students fall behind White students in academic achievement even when socioeconomic class is controlled for. The different learning styles, communication styles,motivators, historical experiences and cultural expectations that African American students have are distinct from other groups, and thus the opportunities to help them thrive lie in strategies that differ from those that make other students thrive. As with any and all hypotheses, valid qualitative research into this academic topic is critical to success in the classroom.

The AFRE Flourish Fellowship accepts 2-4 academic fellows per year, who conduct

research under the guidance of academic mentors and AFRE staff, with the intent of discovering specific, effective teaching strategies to help close the achievement gap and address the distinct learning needs of African American students. All research is be published in the AFRE academic publication and fellows are recognized for their lasting contribution to the advancement of learning at an biennial research symposium (every 2 years) sponsored by AFRE.

In order to arrive at the correct solution, you have to ask the right question. In order to be compelled to act, you must first sense that action is needed. You must see the hole in order to fill it. Traditional research circles (which themselves have implicit bias and are not inclusive of diverse peoples) may be ignorant or oblivious to trauma caused by institutional racism and educational neglect, and therefore would not be compelled to study it. Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to breath life into the topic and explore the opportunities to make discoveries in this area.

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