Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity
Absent Narratives (AN) Professional Development Seminars
Cultural Diversity Resources is the fiscal agent for SEED as a community partner this year.
A Brief History
SEED was established in Moorhead Schools in the early 1990's, and 2-3 monthly seminar groups were held every year, September through May, through the 2006/07 school year. In 2014 four individuals attended a National SEED facilitators training, and two monthly seminar groups were held over the 2014/15 school year. In the Fall of 2015, MSUM hosted a MN Humanities Center presentation on their Absent Narratives initiative, and in January 2016 a SEED-like Absent Narratives seminar was established. A core working group comprised of Moorhead school district, Community, and MSUM participants have continued to evolve and fine-tune the SEED/AN format.
In 2018/19 a SEED/AN seminar was held at SGR with intentions to continue offering additional seminars over the following 5 years, so that all SGR building staff could attend. Another seminar was also offered for community members, MSUM School of Education's faculty and staff, and School Board members.
It was anticipated that on-going SEED/AN seminars would continue to support school and community-wide cultural transformation for equity over the long haul.
Over the years, SEED has found ways to operate on a minimal budget and can offer a meaningful year-long seminar (9 monthly 3 hour sessions) for 12-18 participants for under $3500. For a sense of the purpose of, and format, of the seminars, we've included below some informative quotes from individuals involved in this work over the years.
"Working on a more balanced curriculum for our students needs to be preceded by adult study and talk about how the school curriculum constructed our own sense of human identity, and our sense of others whose human identity weighed more or less than ours"
Emily Styles, SEED Cofounder
"I have become comfortable being uncomfortable" Peggy McIntosh, SEED Cofounder
"Seed embraces educators and community members in all contexts, and works with them to become agents and facilitators for change and equity. The strength of SEED is that it allows people to participate and feel smart and valued, due to their lived experience. When people see that their their personal light shines on the systemic, their critical awareness and agency are ignited. Through a broad definition of who is worthy to contribute experience, ideas and knowledge, SEED has been effective in bringing people to the table and allowing them to feel competent and comfortable in their seats at every stage, thereby insisting that the table must be bigger and bigger instead of people leaving because they do not have a voice or feel heard" Jondou Chase Chen, National SEED Co-director
"Fashioning a more inclusive curriculum is inner and outer work, hard work, and heart work- and makes rigorous demands on memory and intellect. Experienced teachers need professional space to engage with their own life-texts as a fundamental resource. Some teachers have been engaged in just such thinking all along, but in isolation. Most school reform efforts completely ignore teacher and staff biographies. Becoming part of a community of leaders that values autobiographical reflection is a key SEED experience... SEED seminars are led by teachers for their colleagues. They meet monthly throughout the a school year for three hours at a time. They offer both window-views out into areas that have not, until now, been part of teachers' formal schooling on their life-texts, and mirrors of their own lives' complexity. They include numerous, brief narratives by participants, told as we go around what becomes a 'talking circle'. In the conversational nature of this practice, a story told by one participant might become for one listener a window of revelation, and for another- a mirror of recognition of a once known landscape, the dim memory of which brightens in the course of the circle conversation"
From the National SEED Website
"At the SEED Summer Workshop, I became part of a SEED community of 35 learners who teach. Looking at the textbooks of our lives was essential before imagining school climate and curriculums that would more accurately reflect our diverse world. During our first moments together as a community of scholars/learners, we read aloud our personal versions of Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's 'Girl', drawing upon the gendered and remembered voices from our pasts. The first voices we heard were our own. Immediately, we recognized the authenticity and power of our own lived experience"
As explained by MN SEED Leader Teacher Cathy Nelson, in an article for the December 91- January 92 issue of Educational Leadership
"The MN Humanities Center's foundational workshop, INCREASE ENGAGEMENT THROUGH ABSENT NARRATIVES, serves as an introduction to the core strategies and concepts of the Humanities Center's approach to community engagement through absent narratives-- those voices or stories often left out or marginalized. Designed for people from backgrounds ranging from education to government, to community leadership, workshop participants exchange insights through personal stories, conversations and guided reflections. While drawing upon their own experiences, they practice strategies that help them engage others with respect and empathy"
From the MN Humanities Center Website