Speaker Series (Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life): Patrick Camangian

Patrick Camangian was the fourth presenter in the department’s speaker series, “the Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life.” His bio on the University of San Francisco website says, “Camangian is an assistant professor in the Teacher Education Department at the University of San Francisco. He was an English teacher for seven years at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, where he was awarded ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’ by former mayor Richard Riordan and the school’s student body. Professor Camangian currently volunteers at Mandela High School in Oakland teaching tenth grade English. He has collaborated with groups such as California’s Association of Raza Educators, the Education for Liberation national network, and San Francisco’s Teachers 4 Social Justice.”

His presentation as part of the speaker series was titled, “Moving Left of Center: Teaching a New Ending,”

If teachers truly want to make their classrooms more culturally empowering, we need the type of learning, an ability to read the world, as Paulo Freire says, that leads to social transformation in students’ actual lives. This presentation honors this by discussing the importance of tapping into the humanity that young people bring into classrooms, treating their most pressing concerns as worthy of intellectual interrogation and important starting points for all learning. Toward this end, this presentation will draw on work done in urban schools throughout California as a context to understand the socio-educational experiences of different cultural groups in urban communities and, more importantly, consider ways in which classroom teachers can more effectively remedy the problems facing urban communities.

Antero Garcia, host extraordinaire of this amazing series, had this to say, “On Tuesday, as part of the CSU Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life series, Dr. Patrick Camangian, offered his insight in a talk titled ‘From Coping to Hoping: Teaching a New Ending.’ The entire discussion can be viewed below and I hope you will take a look. Dr. Camangian’s work can be accessed via his Academia.edu page. Additionally, Patrick mentions that his work builds on the scholarship of Jeff Duncan-Andrade and I would point readers to his ‘Note to Educators,’ which offers a necessary look at ‘critical hope.’ As Patrick mentions at the beginning of his talk, he and I have been in similar circles for nearly a decade. My first teacher education class (taught by Dr. Duncan-Andrade) met in Patrick’s classroom. The picture of Tupac above his clock, mentioned in his talk, was my first look at what a caring, urban classroom could look like.”

Here’s a video of Patrick Camangian’s presentation:

Patrick Camangian and Antero Garcia

Patrick Camangian and Antero Garcia

English Department Communications Intern Brianna Wilkins attended the presentation, and has this to share:

Coming all the way from the University of San Francisco to the fourth installment of the Speaker Series this semester was Dr. Patrick Camangian. His topic for the night was, “From Coping to Hoping: Teaching a New Ending.” Before he got started he shared that he and Professor Antero Garcia taught at neighboring schools in Los Angeles, and have grown close over time working on other projects together. Their love for education is what brought Dr. Camangian to speak on March 11, 2014; his radical speech mixed with his down to earth demeanor was a good combination which instantly sparked the attention of the audience.

Dr. Camangian expressed that youth living in urban communities are sometimes living in a warlike zone; they are forced to deal with issues that make them stress out more than they should, often times prohibiting them from succeeding in the classroom. He shared that there is an abundance of trauma that youth in urban communities experience, and a lot of times these youth show symptoms of PTSD twice as much as soldiers returning form war. Due to their stress levels and aggressive nature, it’s hard for them to elevate their minds in a positive way, especially if they’re surrounded by negativity. Camangian brought up the point that if students in these communities aren’t taught to collaborate with one another they’ll compete instead to be the best, which causes conflict amongst the group.

Having come from an urban community myself, it is definitely a change being surrounded by students who are actually in school to learn, and not bringing outside drama to the confines of the classroom. Although students in urban communities aren’t to blame for the possible hardships that surround them every day, it is definitely a struggle to interact with those who aren’t mentally or intellectually motivated because of outside factors affecting their performance. He expressed how someone told him that teaching in an urban school is comparative to dog years, in which teaching for one year at an urban school actually feels like seven. It is up to educators to be strong willed, and to be the person that these students need in order to want to come to school and engage in learning; not allowing their outside problems to interfere with their academic performance. He also focused on a book called “The Skin We Ink” by David E. Kirkland, and how it discusses that, “Tattoos connect personal stories to larger social ones.” When in an environment where students feel like they aren’t accepted, and can’t express themselves, they use tattoos as a form of art to show what they think or how they feel.

From Dr. Camangian’s discussion, it’s apparent that students in urban communities need environments where they are able to express themselves in ways that have a positive outcome, and should be provided spaces in which they can excel without having to feel defensive in order to succeed. His passion was definitely present in his speech; it was clear by the experiences he shared that his along with other’s hard work and dedication is making a change in these student’s lives for the better.

~Brianna Wilkins

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester the department will host nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

There is only one presentation remaining in this series: April 22nd, Linda Christensen, Instructor and Director of the Oregon Writing Project, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling & Rethinking Schools Editorial Board member, Portland, OR.

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