Christian Bautista

Educator, Musician, Developer

October 1 ’16

SEL in the Rehearsal Room

Bows click wildly as 5th graders bustle hurriedly around chairs and stands, progressing on inscrutable paths that tend steadily towards their assigned seats: the first of the day’s two music classes begins amidst math, science, and ELA classes in neighboring rooms.

Recounted by an untrained passerby, the events of the next 3 to 4 minutes could be labeled generously as disorderly and perhaps more honestly as raucous, but the 11 year old musicians tuning their cellos and basses by ear are, in fact, carefully siphoning order from chaos. As the calamity begrudgingly surrenders to a familiar “open strings” harmony (or the 5th grade equivalent of it, anyway), 16 scrunched up faces that were busily staring at their neighbor’s strings ease one by one into “aha!” expressions of varying intensity.

What’s happening here? And what’s happening beneath the surface?

A Conservatory Lab Classroom

Much has been said about the need for a hard look at social and emotional learning in our nation’s schools, and indeed socioemotional skills are often - if not categorically - part of a school’s hidden curriculum, or those sets of lessons that are not committed to pen and paper - or maybe not even discussed at all. The trouble with hidden curricula is that they are conveyed with or without the faculty’s awareness, and it only makes sense that school’s that fail to consider the nature of their hidden curriculum are in for trouble, mediocrity, or both.

The Conservatory Model not only deeply considers these hidden curricula but furthermore elevates socioemotional skills into the school’s actual, codified curricula.

August 15 ’16

Between the World and School

In his latest and arguably most passionate indictment of America’s entrenched class structure, Ta-Nehisi Coates grinds through his own childhood and young adulthood – with evident pain and even, at times, with rage – to distill for his son his life’s bitterly earned wisdom: that the oppression of Black bodies in America is not merely a lingering relic of decades past but rather a systemically and perhaps deliberately perpetuated contemporary reality.

Rife with blistering first-hand accounts of the historical and modern injustices inflicted by the dream of “whiteness” upon Black Americans, Between the World and Me tears down the precarious notion that the effects of slavery ended with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 or that racial equality was attained in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible…

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me is written as an open letter from a father to his son

Though, in stark contrast to Coates, I am skeptical towards “structural racism” as a label because it can act as a sociopolitical tautology that refers to nothing in particular, the continued existence of systemic inequalities is indisputable.

What, then, are the unjust practices that we should target as teachers, school designers, and education leaders? How do we toe the line between fighting for equity and condescendingly colonizing low-SES communities?

March 29 ’16

Can Finland be a Model for Louisiana?

Those who follow the national conversation in education have heard time and time again of the now near-mythical accomplishments of Finland’s education system over the past 30 years. Since the 1980’s, Finland has doubled down on education in general and on teacher training in particular in an unprecedented wave of success. Some - perhaps even many - bemoan the “unexportable” nature of Finland’s system but let’s take a serious look at the idea that Louisiana could look to Finland for an example.