Brown Toy Box, which creates resources to tackle disparity in education, is now doing its part to support disadvantaged children during lockdown.
Writing on LinkedIn, Founder and CEO Terri-Nichelle Bradley announced that the company will be donating its STEAM kits to students in the US.
These kits contain books, games and toys or activities — depending on the age of the recipient — that “feature brown children in all their awesomeness,” and encourage them to learn more about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).
“Today I read a thread on Twitter about some parents who felt obligated to apologize to their children’s teacher because their electricity had been disconnected so the children couldn’t do their homework. Can you imagine the humiliation,” Bradley wrote.
“At first it made me sad, then it made me mad, and now it makes me resolved. It’s not much, but for the rest of the summer Brown Toy Box will donate our STEAM kits to a class of students and their teacher.”
She continued: “Kids may not be able to get online but they can work through their kits whenever their parents get home from work.”
Photo of Terri-Nichelle Bradley. Photo on Georgia Social Impact Collaborative
Supporting vulnerable communities
In an accompanying document, Bradley set out a widespread vision of change. She noted that as COVID-19 rages through the US, declaring “all-out assault on some of the most vulnerable Black communities,” schools are turning to technology to keep teaching at-home students.
But, she wonders whether distance learning and Zoom sessions work for everybody.
“We already know nearly $1 billion of ed-tech purchased by school systems and loaded on iPads, computers and other devices sit unused, at schools across the country,” Bradley writes.
“If the technology isn’t being incorporated into classrooms and daily curriculum when school is in session, it would be foolish to think that students are now going to incorporate that same tech into their day from home in the midst of a pandemic while also dealing with a myriad of other outside social factors.”
Crucially, she notes that it’s very different for children in middle-income families, whose parents are at home, to children whose parents are out working the “high-stress, low-wage jobs” that are keeping the economy afloat, while they are “struggling to stay engaged.”
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@apsbamoacademy gave us so much life this morning! Thanks to fellow @russellcenter stakeholder @inex_systems for sponsoring a full morning of fun, celebration and gifts to the amazing Pre-k scholars. Thanks @civil_bikes @swemkids @shakira.ahyanna and everyone for coming to bless the students. We got back so much more than we gave! We’ll be back!!!
Bradley is a proponent of project-based learning as a great equaliser and sees her Brown Toy Boxes as facilitating a more holistic, play-based approach to discovering the world.
“What was, can never be again. We must redefine education and how we engage all children in all communities. We can no longer flock like moths to a single way of educating our children if all our children don’t benefit.”
She continues: “We must never accept this form of distance learning as ‘the new normal’ because that would mean many high-potential children in high-poverty communities will be forever locked out of our education system.”
Summing up, Bradley calls for a new way forward that benefits all students and families. “We owe it to them to not squander this opportunity to be the innovators, educators, and advocates for them that they deserve.”