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August 21, 2020

[EP002] 4 Ways To Know How Increase Your Child's Academic Success In School


Gahmya Drummond-Bey is a conscious learning expert Award-Winning Global Curriculum Designer, and founder of KidYOUniveristy.  Gahmya's work has been featured by TED, TEDx, Oprah Magazine, Success Magazine, and Mindvalley.

Gahmya and I talk about how to tell if your child’s school is using a curriculum that helps your child to make progress in school. And ways to stop policing ourselves when talking about racism with our children while giving them the language and concepts that will help them advocate for themselves.

One of the major factors that contribute to your child’s academic success is the curriculum your child’s school uses. Gahmya breaks down what a successful curriculum looks like and how to advocate with your child’s schools to make improvements. 

As a culture, we have policed ourselves as a method of survival. It’s time that we get to change the narrative and empower our children to become advocates of change to the systemic racism they will deal with. Gahmya and I discuss how to nurture your child’s voice by providing them with the language of empowerment and black culture. 

3 Ways to Know if Your Child’s Curriculum Is Effective

  1. Does the curriculum include topics that interest my child and keeps them engaged? 

    Curriculums should be flexible and individualized. If your child is a fast learner does the curriculum allow for your child to learn the next topic or does it slow them down? While on the other hand if your child learns better by doing are those types of activities in the curriculum. 

  2. Is the parent part of the learning experience?

    There should be opportunities for parents to participate in the classroom experience. Are you able to come into the classroom and interact with the other students and your child? For example, career days, storytime, or class trips.

  3. Is the Curriculum Responsive To Your Child?

    A responsive curriculum considers your child's needs, desires, and requests. If a student is constantly saying that they hate this, then it isn't working. There are so many ways in every subject to teach and enforce learning in a subject. Inclusive Parenting

Inclusive Parenting

Inclusive parenting is when you include the child on the parenting journey by including them in your conversations. As you’re going through your personal experiences include your children in your own processing. Don't shut them out when you're figuring out things. 

Children are here to learn and uncover things with you. It's parenthood and it's childhood. These are both full experiences and they're supposed to be journeys that happen alongside one another but oftentimes, parents try to shield their kids from things, from money conversations, from health conversations, and then what happens is kids never get those conversations. They never get those answers, so they create in their mind, which is often worse stories to fill the gaps.

Instead, include your children in your journey by modeling your behavior. For example: As you are working through managing the money you can talk to your kids about budgeting, even give them their own money to budget.

Raising Black Children to be Powerful Self Advocates

A lot of times when teaching our black children history we're trying to teach history from empty spaces within ourselves. So it's going to take a lot of relearning and unlearning yourself about what black history actually is. What was Black Wall Street? There are just such amazing pillars of black history and history and all different sorts of cultures that are rich. And I am a big believer that the more knowledge you equip the child with and also the lens that you give them that knowledge through makes all the difference. 

It’s also important to unpack for black kids as well, is that you have allies and these are ways for you to be able to detect who your allies are. Navigating in this world because the conversation is not black people are against white people and white people are against black people and that lens is not going to push us forward either. We have always had allies and supporters.

The knowledge of their history and understanding of what’s an “ally” will empower your children to advocate for themselves changing the narrative that we have of silencing ourselves and children.

( You can get more information about how to teach your child about who is an “ally” on Gahmya’s Facebook page)

Key Takeaways


  • [00:47] What is a curriculum designer?

  • [01:23] What should we look for in a curriculum for special needs kids?

  • [21:25] What is inclusive parenting?

  • [56:27] You’ve got to be careful with "they" when talking to your children about “white” people.

  • [1:00:52] What does the quote “It is the mindset of education that is broken?” mean?

Stay Connected

Gahmya's website: https://www.evolvedteacher.com/about-me

KidYOUniversity: https://www.kidyouniversity.com/

TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/gahmya_drum...

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2A4...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gahmyateacher

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gahmya-dr…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gahmya

If you’d like to hear Gahmya’s favorite song “ Kari’s Song” click on the playlist below


Genie 00:09

Today, we are blessed with the presence of Gahmya Drummond-Bey, who is a conscious learning expert, award winning global curriculum designer who has redesigned learning programs in over 30 countries. She regularly collaborates with and trains top thought leaders to create high performance programs, events and talks. Her work has been featured by TED, TEDx, Oprah magazine, Success magazine in My Valley. She is also the founder of Kid University and I am, so excited to have her on the show today.

Genie 00:47

So the first thing I wanted to ask is what is a curriculum designer?

Gahmya 0:58

Curriculum designer is someone who creates the learning systems, strategies, processes, often the courses and the way that the learning takes place, for schools, for organizations, for entrepreneurs, sometimes for live events. Basically, the person who creates how the learning happens.

Genie 01:23

So as a parent who has a special needs child like myself and my audience, when we are looking at schools and curriculums, what are we looking for?

Gahmya 01:34 

We are basically looking for two different answers, so if you're looking for schools, there are definitely a whole lot of concepts that go into play based on what your own personal interests are and what your own personal goals are for your child, but when you're looking for a curriculum, you want to consider. How your child learns, how the curriculum is implemented.

Gahmya 02:03

So one thing that I always look for in a curriculum for every child is, Is it individualized in any way? Is it flexible in any way? Even if you feel like your child is an A student, is it flexible enough so that if they complete their desired learning faster than others? Does it give them opportunities to do other things? Because some curriculum not only hinders those who are slower pace, but also hinders those who complete things faster. Does this curriculum give them interest and does it follow their own engagement? Because a lot of curriculum that I go in to redesign or create is curriculum that is outdated because it's based on what the teacher knows versus what the child wants to know. So is any of that included in the curriculum you also want to consider, Is the curriculum related to anything my child needs to know right now?

Gahmya 03:10

A lot of curriculum is based off of state testing and acquiring skills that may be useful later, but are they skills that they can use no and does it teach them how they can use it now? For example, does it teach them how to use their math now? Does it teach them how to take their writing lessons and maybe write books now? Or does it teach them things like cursive writing that they may never use? You really want to look at how much they can actually implement what they're learning and is that one of the school's goals? You also want to consider does the school's curriculum include skills that go beyond IQ? Does it include any of your child's emotional health? Does it include their social skills? Is there a time in the curriculum for your child to try out any of those things to implement?

Gahmya 04:09

So many curriculums have learning from back to back to back and if you aren't learning, you must be reading but is there a time for kids to be, "bored" meaning for them to be creative themselves, and does the curriculum also include the parents in any way? Does it give you as a parent an opportunity to be a part of the learning? And this is really important because there are so many curriculums that do not give the parents a say or an opportunity to be a partner with the class, and especially for kids with special needs but I would say for all kids, any time the parent can have a relationship with the class, with the teacher can come in and read sometimes, can come in for career day, can come in and take part in field trips, that creates a stronger community and relationship in that school so basically, having the awareness period to go in and know that you can pick apart a curriculum and ask questions, even when you're told this is what the state says, you always have a say. that is going to set you up for so much more success, because typically a lot of families don't know that they can look at a curriculum and pick it apart and ask questions. They're just told, hey, look for the right school, it's a good school or it's not a good school.

Genie 05:38 


Gahmya 05:39 

Then you enter the school, but actually pick it apart, ask questions. Ask what is the strategy for recess? What does recess mean to you? What is the strategy for punishment? Are you handing out positive reinforcement or is it negative reinforcement? You really want to know these things because these also create rifts and can create risk between you and your child at home if you offer positive reinforcement, but that no longer works because they're spoken to negatively, or used to things being taken away now because that's what happens at school. So also, knowing the way things are done at school and being able to see if they're in alignment with the way you want to raise your child can be a very, very powerful form of knowledge for any parent to have.

Genie 06:28

Most definitely. Happy, smiling. When I look at curriculums for my son, I had those questions but it's different when you see something on paper, but then you see it and experience it, right? So for my son, they will ask me questions, especially when things aren't going well at school. So they'll say, what is he interested in? What kind of positive reinforcement do you use at home? So then we are cohesive versus at school, they do data to points and at home, I am not that woman. I'm not going to remember these points. I am the person that will say every Friday, if you do A, B, C and D in class, then you get a reward. So even though they look differently between school and home, they actually are the same thing and we're having this conversation about what he's doing and also, what a lot of parents don't want to admit is how your child shows up at school, it's how they show up at home. So Zavier is really clear and he will tell someone really quick, “Okay, you need to be quiet.” In class, he tells the children, “Just go ahead and give up because you don't know the answer.”

Genie 7:57

Man, as I hear them tell me this, I'm like, yeah, that's him and I'm like, oh, what can I do? So instead of me sitting there saying, what can I do, we are actually having this conversation so I mean, yeah, I got the good school knowing that and it is important that children are receiving something individualized. So at least to me, this question I had when we're speaking is, the school my son goes to. They said, like, “We use over 100 different programs so that we can personalize the child's experience.” That's a lot. However, when I look at his curriculum, it doesn't appear as though we're using 100 different programs because you keep trying to use this app for reading and he hates this app. I hate that. I hate it because he hates it, but I also hate it because the way that it works is, it doesn't give them any space to feel accomplished. Either the question is right or wrong and if for instance, let's say it's the letter is the word, we say the word is spot. Gives them the words spot. “Okay, this is how you spell the word. These are the letters.” So the next screen will tell him, spell the word. He doesn't spell that word. It takes him back to the previous screen, and this is what happens: every time he does not get it right and it's frustrating and he comes away, he says to me, like, “I think something's wrong with my brain.” So it seems to me like you can have a school that has an excellent curriculum, you need to understand or ask, what does that look like in real time? And like you said, we're part of the process so -

Gahmya 9:59 


Genie 10:00

If it's not working, I think it's time for us to try something else. Not a question, but a statement.

Gahmya 10:09

Right! Or does he ever use that app at school? Have they ever experienced that app with him?

Genie 10:18

Yes, he does use it in school and they have experienced that app with him.

Gahmya 10:23

And what happens? Is it the same thing?

Genie 10:26

Same thing.

Gahmya 10:28

So then that's not responsive, and I think that's another important aspect of a curriculum and also a great education space, a great learning spaces, they have to be responsive to your child's needs, desires and their requests and if a student is constantly saying that they hate this, then it isn't working, then we all know there are so many ways in every subject to teach and enforce learning in that subject, so the goal is for him to improve his reading. The goal is not for him to be a master of that particular app. So the app shouldn't be the goal.

Genie 11:15

Yes, and the other thing. What stood out for me was when you said, “What are the child's interest? What are the child's interests?” And my son is more, he's more likely to try to switch a conversation to his interest.

Gahmya 11:31


Genie 11:31

Versus what's being taught in class and what I've noticed is their technique is either their response is I'm going to act like he didn't say that or I'm going to acknowledge you said it and redirect you, so it looks like, oh! that's very interesting, buddy, but that's not what we're talking about right now and since we're in this virtual space, he will constantly mute himself, even though he is a talker. When he loves a subject he's thoroughly engaged.

Gahmya 12:11


Genie 12:12

And I see them do that with some of the children who are like my son and I'm sitting here thinking, after listening to you, I'm like, Okay, so this curriculum is based on the mission versus being responsive to his interests, which will actually make him engage in the curriculum.

Gahmya 12:32

Yeah and also to acknowledge that they are children. I have one of my students from Korea, I just saw that now he's like, man, what is he like 15 or 16? And he's in a minor baseball league, so they are prepping him to be a professional baseball player and I smiled because I remember that kid all throughout class would always swing an invisible baseball bat all the time and so I made that like instead of high five, we would all as a class, swing the invisible baseball bat. That was his thing and so we have to embrace those things to help people to feel accepted and also to know that everyone has their own unique gifts.  So what if I would have said, no, stop swinging your invisible baseball bat. He's about to be a professional baseball player, and he was always perfecting his swing. I had another student, Grace, she would randomly get up and walk around class just all the time, kindergartner, always get up and I always say, where are you going? And then I realized that although I was okay with that, because she stayed in the class, she was fine. That other students would question, “Is this okay?”

Gahmya 13:56

So we started talking about every day I would bring in a famous person who had some type of quirk like Albert Einstein, who would stick his tongue out at people walking by, and after that, and Grace grew up and we constantly have dinners and she would say, you know, I felt so happy when you talked about Albert Einstein because he was silly like me, but he was smart and so then, I felt like I was a genius, too, so I really feel like that's a really important aspect of an educator is to help kids to see themselves in positive spaces. So if he likes to talk, like call him, I would call Grace Einstein. I would call other students while you're Aristotle, because you always like to teach other people stuff. So you're like Aristotle and for your son, I would say, wow! you're amazing, you're like Trevor Noah. You're the next Trevor Noah. Give him something to embrace versus squelching his desires and for educators listening is, I already know a lot of the self-talk is, oh! How will I get through my lesson? How will I get through my lesson? But one powerful thing about that is when you empower kids, you naturally don't have to silence them because they don't see it as something negative, they're now not fighting to be seen or heard, and so for Alex would always swing his baseball bat. He knew that he will always have time and space to swing his invisible baseball bat, so it wasn't a fight. He knew, okay, as soon as I get a high five, I get to swing my baseball bat and it was five so it was no longer something to do against anyone, and it just brings harmony. If you don't have to fight for something, it's no longer a struggle, right?

Genie 16:03

Yeah, that is so true and even when you think about a lot of children with special needs, which I like to call special powers, see I just started smiling when you said you started to highlight other geniuses or people who we know who had these quirks. It's like a special power and we really don't have that in schools, even though we say we are inclusive. What does that mean?

Gahmya 16:30


Genie 16:30

Do you have books about children who are deaf? Do you have books about children of ADHD? They have to see a reflection of themselves in a positive light versus they may be the only child, and especially if they're in a regular school, the only child who's gained fault, the only child who the teacher is always talking to because she does not know how to engage. So what happens is that's when they start to have this inner battle with themselves, I don't want to be different, so I don't want help.

Gahmya 17:05


Genie 17:06

I don't want anything that's going to highlight me where someone's making fun of me.

Gahmya 17:11


Genie 17:11

So for my son, he was dyslexic at one point and he literally did not speak, not because he was incapable, but because when he did speak, the kids would talk about how they didn't understand what he was saying. Once he got his articulation corrected, he wasn't able to form his ideas and cohesive sentences, but his experience, especially being pulled out. It wrecked his self-confidence and he told me he was like, I don't want to be different and then when they put him in a classroom with other children like himself, he was happy as a lark. Which goes -

Gahmya 17:52

That's a lot like Albert Einstein too who used to mumble and make animal noises in class and his teacher said, Oh,  you don't know how to speak yet and he was thrown out of class just like that or Basquiat, who used to hide in boxes, and would draw all of these images everywhere and he would be made fun of and he didn't have friends. So all of these amazing people, I think as an educator and also as a parent, when you prepare to introduce your child or students to these concepts or to these different people, it also creates empathy within you and also a bit of support knowing its going to be okay. It's going to be okay. They are amazing people who we look up to, who have similar backgrounds, who have similar stories, and identifying them for yourself and also showing kids like you telling them these stories is fascinating for kids to hear this. Like, do you know, Einstein used to sit and mumble and make a little animal sounds and everyone would laugh and the teachers would get angry and he couldn't speak for the longest and he's Albert Einstein. Just hearing that is so empowering and I think that is also what makes learning inclusive and it's those key concepts that we overlook because we're so busy teaching what the book says needs to be done but it's those aspects that really humanize all of us and all of our quirks that we have.

Genie 19:27

We all have a lot of them.

Gahmya 19:29


Genie 19:30

We all have a lot of them, even though when you look at those of us who did traditional education. When you think of your journey, you realize when you look back, there were times when I felt like this because the teacher did that. The teacher is only doing what they were provided with and when in the United States, since we're using these measurements for success, that's the thing that they're focused on. They're not focused on the individual child in their experience, so if you're lucky, you have that teacher like yourself in your journey.

Gahmya 20:04

And trauma, you know, teachers are also teaching from their own trauma, from their own unhealed wounds, from their own fears. I have seen so many educators react out of fear. When I teach teens in particular, I am very careful about who comes into the room, because I know that no matter how successful people are, a lot of people have had negative experiences in high school that they haven't dealt with and so when I bring them into a room of teens staring at them, they're triggered and they revert in different ways that they wouldn't expect. So also, it's a big call for anyone who's educating to also deal with your childhood trauma,  deal with the ways you were treated when you were younger, the ways you treated other people when you were younger as well because I see so much of that coming out of educators when they respond or react in ways that aren't the best for the kid and a lot of the times it's you dealing with things or reacting or projecting things that you never took the time to become aware of yourself.

Genie 21:22

And that is for parents too.

Gahmya 21:25


Genie 21:25

That's is for parents. So on that note, I wanted to ask you, what is inclusive parenting?

Gahmya 21:32

So inclusive parenting is when you include the child on the parenting journey, you include them in the conversations, you include them in your own processing. You don't shut them out when you're figuring out things. You let them know. You tell them stories about yourself. You realize that they are here as full beings, their own journey as well. They're not here to be your mini me. They're here to learn and uncover things with you. It's parenthood and it's childhood. These are both full experiences and they're supposed to be journeys that happen alongside one another but oftentimes, parents try to shield their kids from things, from money conversations, from health conversations and then what happens is kids never get those conversations. They never get those answers, so they create in their mind, which is often worse stories to fill the gaps.

Genie 22:45


Gahmya 22:45

And oftentimes, those stories are not positive and so really being an inclusive parent, even when you're picking schools, ask your child, What would you like to happen at school? What kind of teacher would you like to have this time? Would you like to have a male teacher or a female teacher? Does it matter? And even if you can't necessarily choose a male teacher or a female teacher, sometimes asking those questions will bring out things that your child has never told you before. Well, actually, I don't want a male teacher or a female teacher because of this teacher, blah, blah, blah or actually, I would love this because I love the sound of this kind of voice or you never know what they're going to say, so a lot of your thinking, I would say, allow yourself to process along with your child in a conversation versus always telling them what's going to happen. Because when you do that, you also you don't raise a leader. You don't raise someone who is a critical thinker. You're constantly doing the thinking for them and then suddenly they're 18 and you're like, okay, go live your life.

Genie 23:55

Right. But it also empowers them when things aren't right. So for instance, if you're having a conversation with your child about a teacher like did you like them? Like what was your experience with them? That actually instills in them like, I have a choice versus if you don't have these conversations, for instance, with my daughter, she had a teacher who was speaking to her crazy like she was mean. She actually told my daughter to shut up and apparently, this teacher was telling all of the girls to shut up, but when I was doing the private school journey with my kids, I started to ask them a bunch of questions like, “What did you think about the school,” “Do you feel like you fit in?” So because we have had that conversation when the teacher said that to her and she had anxiety. So as people with anxiety, they are people pleasers and they do not want to hurt anyone in a negative light but she told me she came home. She's like “This teacher told me to shut up,” and I said okay and I broke my leg, gets to writing. For black mom, they expect you to go in blazing. No, I sat down and wrote a letter. I sent it to the head of school, to the head of middle school and she apologized. Now, here was awesome about this. Predominantly white school. She's the only black child in the classroom. She's the only girl in that classroom that got an apology for being told to shut up.

Gahmya 25:18


Genie 25:20

And it's because when I was asking her the questions, because I did not know what inclusive parenting was, but because I was doing that, she was able to say, like, this is not right because what we don't understand sometimes with kids is they will let people say and treat them a certain kind of way because you put them here, like you put me in this school. So that means whatever they do to me is okay.

Gahmya 25:46


Genie 25:47

So, I am like yes, inclusive parenting and also, for instance with my kids, so when I first got diagnosed, I was like, “Yeah, we have to fix this, so we're going to therapies.” They're in their class, they're doing all these special things. Never sat down and said, “Look! you have dyslexia.” This is what it is. It wasn't until two years later where we were going to therapy and my son says, “I'm so sorry.” Why are you telling me you're sorry? “I'm just so sorry, Mom, you just seem to be so tired, and I know it's because of me,” because I never had a conversation with him about why we were doing what what we were doing. The only thing he could see was I was tired because I wasn't taking care of myself, that I was doing a lot of running around, but it made me pause to realize that I should have had that conversation, and I find that with a lot of black parents, because that's not where we come from. We're from a generation of you do as you're told, be quiet, be sane. You just sit there quietly. So basically you can sit there but we don't want to hear your voice.

Gahmya 27:07


Genie 27:07

That's what we're talking all the time. So when you're a parent, you're not actually used to being inclusive, not understanding that if you're going through money problems and your child's life has changed, you know, that you didn't maintain your money or you lost your job but a child doesn't internalize it that way. They internalize it as though it's their fault and I think that it's a time for parents to kind of pay attention to children, because correct me if I'm wrong. For children, it's kind of like I centered. If anything's wrong, it's my fault. They find some way when they create the story that the onus is on them. The onus isn't on someone else with parents. It's literally they will always have some kind of way, my parents get divorced is because of me, my mom is unhappy, it's because of me, but you're not having a conversation like I have conversations now with my son. He's like, “Are you happy?” And I'm like, “Not really,” I'm not going to lie because he can tell. So he said, what's wrong? And I'm like, “Well, today I just feel a little sad.” He's like, “Well, why are you sad? Is there anything I can do?” Versus I could just be sad.

Gahmya 28:30


Genie 28:31

In his story is what she said, because this is what happened today, because I did something and then the other thing I might add about inclusive parenting for the audience is I had a situation with my son. He is an honor roll student.

Gahmya 28:50

That's amazing. Yeah.

Genie 28:51

And he had this class and this is so good. He had this class and he does not want to turn the computer on and he has one particular class that he had an F on the progress report, and I'm trying to get him to take care of himself to mark himself, a human executive functioning so I'm not going to be all over him, so I'm like gently saying to him, “Did you talk to your teacher or did you do this and that?” And it's like two weeks before school's over and I'm like, “Oh! you have F” and in my mind, you have the F because you will turn the screen on because I keep telling you to turn the screen on. His whole demeanor changed, like his whole body language is I straight crushed him and I'm mad. I'm so mad. Middle school teacher calls me and I said, “Well, I'm so sorry,” and he will turn the screen on, he was like “Ms. Dawkins, that is not why he has that grade and to be honest, we understand that the children nowadays, they have a screen phobia. A lot of these teenagers do not want to be on screen.

Gahmya 30:06

That's true!

Genie 30:06

So as long as the screen is on and he's responding, he's fine.” Okay, so this is a moment as a parent to clock in with.  You just jumped all over your child for no reason, but here it gets better, he continues to say, “Your son is in a three way tie up with a highest GPA of the sixth grade.”

Gahmya 30:28


Genie 30:29

And I'm like, “Oh my God!” and I just totally just stop all over him. After I got off the phone, I knocked on his door and I said I apologize, his whole demeanor changed me when the words out of my mouth was I apologize and I said, “I apologize for believing that you got the F because of the screen” and you are right, because he did keep telling me that it wasn't about the screen. I said, “What it is, is I said, so I apologize for that.” He was like, “Yeah, you made me feel really bad” and I said I apologize and sorry on spectrum so they can get really fixated on that and he just really wanted to press that. You jumped all over me and I said to him, “Okay, I've acknowledged that I was wrong. This is a moment that either you can accept my apology, that we can move forward or you can just say stop with what I did wrong” when I'm –

Gahmya 31:29


Genie 31:32

After that, we talked about what he needed to do and everything was fine. But that's part of inclusive parenting.

Gahmya 31:38


Genie 31:38

You have to acknowledge you're imperfect.

Gahmya 31:42

Yeah, and apologizing is a big part of that. I think something that we also have to model for parents and also at school for all of their authority figures, because it's something that in a lot of households, kids are held too, but parents aren't and it becomes a big risk if we're constantly saying, you need to apologize or you need to own up to this but they rarely hear I'm sorry or apologize when they feel like they've been wronged. So I think that's a really powerful way of of being inclusive and and having that respect there, because in often cases, there are authoritarian ways of parenting and also of educating where kids don't receive that respect. And it's that lack of respect that often causes them to feel insecure and not speak up in cases when they are wronged in school because they don't feel like they deserved it. Oh, well, I'm not equal. I don't know. This is what happens. This is the way that I'm treated. So the more that we treat them as equals and respect them and own up to our own wrongdoings, the better they are equipped to realize when they have been done wrong and to be aware of that and acknowledge that and also speak up for themselves.

Genie 33:14

That goes a long way.

Gahmya 33:16


Genie 33:16

I mean it especially goes a long way when we're talking about the racial climate today where we are acknowledging it to the world but as black people, we have experienced it our entire existence.

Gahmya 33:33


Genie 33:33

So with this new climate and then you have special needs children, which for some of us, we are scared because it's a double edged sword for us, because especially if you have a child who has autism or if they have a sensory disorder. Speech disorder, the name of all down the line and they have a tendency to question or they have a tendency to worry. My son's worry is, “Well, when do I have to stop wearing hoodies because I don't want to be shot?” Have you ever heard of driving while black? So how can you have productive conversations with your child but not kill their hope per say? You know what I'm saying?

Gahmya 34:19


Genie 34:20

I've talked to parents where they literally have said it like I don't really teach my children black history because I don't want them to hate white people.

Gahmya 34:30

But I would question that and ask what kind of black history you are teaching? Because the black history, I know, is very empowering.

Genie 34:42


Gahmya 34:42

So I would just encourage that parent to unpack that because their true. Black history has many layers and it's actually very beautiful. Just like the story I told about Basquiat, Jean-Michel Basquiat. I mean, he's my favorite artist. Incredible. Kids are often taught Van Gogh and Picasso, but not Basquiat, so their true Black history is empowering. I love the story of Ruby Bridges and I love it because there is one aspect that is dark. People throwing rocks at her as a child, but there is another aspect of that that shows true resilience. This girl integrated schools, she was not deterred no matter what and there was a teacher who stayed and worked with Ruby by herself,  so there are such beautiful, rich aspects of black culture that really helps in history, kids to see themselves fully and I feel like not giving them that aspect of black culture really helps them to create lean into these negative stereotypes because the media is going to feed them a form of black culture regardless. So either you can combat that with powerful knowledge, especially when you start younger, because the younger you start, kids are quick to say, no, that's not what I know. I know my students love to correct people, even their parents.

Genie 36:22

They do.

Gahmya 36:22

Parents call me, they'll say Gahmya, can you tell them? Because my students say note Gahmya teacher. No, she actually said that the first black pilot was this person and just empowering them with that knowledge and letting them know just go into the history of if I were talking about hoodies, I would teach them about FUBU For Us, By Us. You know, I would dive into the times when rappers and athletes in different times in history have fought back and because a lot of kids feel empowered by sports and music and show them different artists songs that they sing, They Don't Really Care About Us by Michael Jackson. There are so many different songs and these are ways that people like you, have used their voices and their talents. One of my favorite things projects to ask my students of all ages, and I'm talking about from 5 to like 20 is I love to ask them what they're interested in or if they are older, what problem do you want to solve? And then when they tell me “Well, I want to be a designer or I want to be a musician or I want to be a math mathematician,” then I ask them different question it's like, okay, well, how are you going to fight injustice as a mathematician? How are you going to fight injustice as an artist, and have them think about that and show them examples because if you look on streets of Washington right now, you see how artists have fought against injustices. You see, you can listen to the new Beyonce song and hear how musicians have fought and it's so empowering them and letting them know that they always have a voice. So, I will always say that the more history that you can give a child, the more beneficial it is and if you ever feel like the history or knowledge that you're giving a child is harmful, I would question the history that you're teaching.

Genie 38:35

Oh, yeah. I'm like, OK, that is like a whole new spin. So just the spin and how people look at history is interesting. That's how they're going to teach their child so they have to do some unpacking of themselves.

Gahmya 38:48

And learning history, because a lot of times, we're trying to teach history from empty spaces within ourselves. So it's going to take a lot of relearning and unlearning yourself about what black history actually is. What was black Wall Street? There are just such amazing pillars of black history and history and all different sorts of cultures that are rich. And I am a big believer that the more knowledge you equip the child with and also the lens that you give them that knowledge through makes all the difference.

Genie 39:29

As I'm listening to you, I'm thinking about my boys and I had a conversation with Asar and I was like, “Do you understand what's going on?” And he was like, “Yeah, black people are tired of white people and I'm like, “Oh, no baby. No baby!” But he also is a natural historian so that's when we start talking about the lens so when he has conversations with me, am I engaging with him on what he's learning and looking at it from a different point of view. So he looks at it from the point of view of this is what was done, this is messed up. They did all these great things and this is how they were treated.

Gahmya 40:09

And who are they.

Genie 40:11

So for him, this particular conversation when he was talking about the Harlem Hellfighters, he was talking about when they got back, they couldn't get jobs. White people didn't let them have jobs. White people did this. White people did that. And I'm like, oh, yeah, that's kind of true. What should I say? I don't know.

Gahmya 40:29

Maybe it wasn't just white people and I would ship that conversation about being between racists and anti racists because the Underground Railroad comprised of a lot of white allies and so that's also important to to unpack for black kids as well, is that you have allies and these are ways for you to be able to detect who your allies are. Navigating in this world because the conversation is not black people are against white people and white people are against black people and that lens is not going to push us forward either. We have always had allies and supporters. I love the conversation about Marilyn Monroe on the way that she opened doors for different black singers by refusing to sing in certain places and then agreeing things. So knowing what that means is very important in a powerful part of our history as well, because it also creates the lens for them to look for the helpers. If you create the story that white people don't like you and you don't like white people and we are minorities in a country, that's very disempowering for a child and that's not necessarily breeding the kind of energy that suits any of us.

Genie 41:56


Gahmya 41:56

And it's not the conversation, but teaching them the difference between someone who is a supporter and someone who is not and what that looks like. How does it look for you to be supportive and not? Why exactly are so many people against Trump? It's not because Trump is white. All of our presidents except one have been white but what is the conversation about Trump? Well, he's racist in many ways. And these are the ways that he is. These are the things that he does and this creates more of a conversation that has more hope, but also gives them a lens to be able to argue different points better and that's really important, giving them the language, giving them something to work with, teaching them about what it means to have biases because the thing about kids is they notice energy before anything else, they can tell somebody doesn't like me or they'll tell you, “Mommy, I don't like that person.” They'll tell you even we like soon as someone walks in the room, they know the energy. So helping them to unpack that for why do you think they have biases? Do you have biases? What are your biases? What do you see when that person comes in? Where did that come from? So you're developing their vocabulary, but also teaching them about the current climate at the same time.

Genie 43:23

So as you're talking, I'm just thinking about all the conversations I've had with the boys and some of them. I do ask them questions like, so who is they in particular? Well, because we did have people who were allies who helped us do A, B, C and D, but then when I'm listening to you, I'm realizing, okay, we also need to fast forward to the present tense. What does it look like right now?

Gahmya 43:47


Genie 43:48

In the climate and then I'm also cringing a little bit, so I think about the conversation or the things that I say that gives them a particular impression and I'm also learning not to limit or monitor their conversations with other people.

Gahmya 44:07


Genie 44:08

Because I know, for me, it's like, okay, no, we don't say that out loud. We don't say that out loud. So for instance, they played like Zavier has a favorite song and they played it and they played it because they knew it was his favorite song. However, they played it probably like on Kids BOP so it went from being a black artist to a white artist. And they asked him, “How do you like the song?” He said, “It was weird for me,” and they asked, “Why it was weird?” And he said, “Well, because it's a black song that they turn to a white song and it's just not right. “

Gahmya 44:47

That's powerful.

Genie 44:49

But I am literally in the background cringing.

Gahmya 44:53


Genie 44:54

I was like, “Oh my God! You can't say that out loud. You can't say that out loud.” He shouldn't say that. But that's when we start talking about as parents, we have some unpacking that we also need to be more conscious of our thoughts and our responses and even though I was cringing, I was conscious enough to know let him be.

Gahmya 45:18


Genie 45:19

Let him be because the more you try to silence a child, you are also killing a part of them that is important, that like you say, is empowering. Oh, yes.

Gahmya 45:31

Why not say that out loud? That's a powerful lesson that he gave.

Genie 45:35

It was. But it is like, born in the 70s, right by parents in the 50s and we don't pay attention and we're not conscious as a parent. You're parenting not from your experience or your thoughts per say. You're actually parenting from your parents experience or parents experience is just like anxiety.

Gahmya 45:59

And from your fears. You're parenting from your fears, your parenting from ego, all of these things and the younger generation, they have the voice right now for a reason.

Genie 46:13


Gahmya 46:13

And a big part of that reason is because they're willing to say things that we were taught not to say, because in our generation it was very imperative, especially in education spaces, to be the black person, to be the good black girl or the good black boy, so that you could get the good classes or the good scores or be liked. That was such a big part of our upbringing and for Zavier's generation, they're not called to do that. They're not called to do that, they are teaching, they are forcing us to unlearn and relearn, and they can't do that if they're policed by the good black girls and the good black boys and we have to be very, very cognizant of that, that they are changing the world. It's them and I get not wanting them to say, "the wrong thing". But have you ever been in a store and a non-black kids say, oh, look at a black person, mom, look at that person's hair, but we often, as minorities write that off, as people who are not black have the luxury of being innocent children but we don't give our own children the luxury of being innocent children when we're around and so that's just something to be aware of.

Genie 47:50

Oh, man that's true. On that note, I'm going to ask another question about color. So Zavier is on the autism spectrum. So he's more social, he's more social based, he has some academic pieces. So with that being said, I like to say he's a straight shooter, so he's the child. You're in a restaurant and he says out loud, “What is that white girl doing over there?” And his sister, so embarrassed she's like, why do you have to call them the white girl? He says because I don't know her and she's white and that's how I am identifying her and then we had another conversation and it's interesting, so we had this conversation. He’s always talking about this little boy in his classroom, Morfe, Morfe, Morfe. Morfe does this, Morfe does that. So one day, my mom asked him because my mom has some biased. So she wanted to know, she said, “Is Morfe Black or is Morfe African?” That was the question and he said, “No, Morfe is not African, Morfe is Black, he's black, just like me.” So I just laugh and then later on, he came, he asked me, he said, “Why are we called black people because we're not really black? I am brown I am brown and some black people, not even as brown as I am.” He says, “Why are we called black?” And I'm like, Oh, that's so deep, and he is a child that. What I'm learning from him is answer the question in its entirety, because he won't get it and he'll tell me, he says, “You need to explain to me in the way that I can understand in your short answers.” Basically, he said your short answer is like that's how it is. That's how it's going to be, doesn't work for him.

Gahmya 49:51

It doesn't work for kids, period. Those answers and they don't work for me whenever I'm talking to a friend and someone's like, oh, you got it or this little open ended statements like that, they frustrate me so much. I'm like, I'm not talking to this person anymore. They gave me, I say they have a great summered me. When you were in school, if you didn't really know someone well on their yearbook, you will write have a great summer at the end. So yeah. Have a great summer responses. I don't really think they serve people.

Genie 50:26

So what can that conversation look like?

Gahmya 50:30

It's interesting because I recently had that conversation with my friend Grace's son, Aiden, and Aiden is Korean and he was asking about just race and he said, “Oh, you're brown,” and I said, “Well, no, actually, I am black. I'm your black auntie.” Aiden said, “No, you're not black, you're brown,” and I said, Well, actually, people from India are referred to as brown people and so when you say that someone is brown, usually they think you're talking about someone from India because people from India often say, I'm brown and people from who have ancestors from Africa often refer to themselves as black and that's usually the way that I explain that, about how the world was once one huge super continent and people didn't have the type of education that we have now and so they label people by color. They said these are the white people and they called Asian people the yellow people, and they called Indian people the brown people, and they called us the black people and although we are aware of those things, it's not necessarily nice to call other people those things because now, we are more educated than the people who created those titles were and every time a new generation has kids, they become even smarter than the older ones.

Gahmya 52:02

So you're smarter than me because you're the newer generation and then when you have a kid, they'll be smarter than you because they'll be the newer generation and their teachers will teach them better things. So I said we get smarter, a smarter and smarter, smarter, and we start to learn that the things that people told us before weren't so nice and then I teach them that for black, some people like to be called African-Americans. Some people like to be called black. It's really different people's preferences. So if Zavier wants to be called African-American, that's his choice. He can decide. I prefer to be called black because I feel a connection to everyone who is a black person, whether you are from Africa, whether you're African-American, whether  you're Caribbean. I feel like we all have; we are all one. So I say black. All black people were the same. Some people they like to specify. They want you to know I am African, so that's their choice. Some people want you to know, well, actually, I'm Jamaican-American, that's their choice and so you let him decide what's your choice? You can tell people that's your choice.

Genie 53:20

The way you explained it was so awesome about it is like so Asar is 11, Zaiver is nine and they will have the little tiny arguments and one of the arguments was Asar was correcting him. He was saying we're African-American and Zavier was like, no, we're black. Now, let's be clear. Zavier really doesn't have any attachment, but that's what he's identifying as is because that's what I say versus Asar is our little mini historian has read all of these books so now he has decided that is his preference and I told Asar he can use black if he chooses because that's what he wants to do and Zavier was, “Yeah right. I am right,”and I'm like, no, we're both right.

Gahmya 54:07


Genie 54:09

We're both right. Let's be clear.

Gahmya 54:11

Yeah and they just in the dictionary identified Black with a capital B, that wasn't the case before. I think this just happened last week. Were now black with a capital B can be used. So that's something to tell Asar to add to that conversation and now, he can choose before I know it, a friend of mine, she was working on a book and she wanted the title to have Black with a capital B on it, and the publishing house refused to do it and so yeah, and so she was really frustrated about that because she didn't just want to have black with a lowercase B, but now officially Black with a capital B referring to people of African descent or people who identify as Black is officially an option.

Genie 55:05

Oh, I get it. I'm laughing because that was one of Asar's reasons why we couldn't be Black. He said, “Because it's a color, because it is a difference when you use it with a capital versus the lowercase.” For us, it's the color and he was really clear with that and you know that, he doesn’t care. I don't know what you think. Oh, my goodness. That is clarity and then when you have a child with special needs, especially in this climate and we call it anxiety, this is just fear. Let's be honest. We call it anxiety, with its fear around a thing.

Gahmya 55:45


Genie 55:46

So, in this current climate, when we're talking about race and we're being on candid and my son has affinity stem, so he focuses on that one piece and it's really hard for him to shift.

Gahmya 55:59


Genie 56:00

We are having these conversations and about race,  for instance, for Asar is because white people did A,B,C,D and I try to shift the conversation to well, look, there are white people out here,  let's look at the historical context and he's able to say, oh, okay so then his conversation shifted to they're mad because they killed George Floyd.

Gahmya 56:27

Well, you got to be careful with "they" you got to be careful with "they"

Genie 56:31


Gahmya 56:31

And so every time one of your kids uses they question it.

Genie 56:35


Gahmya 56:36

Because they is not specific and so it's really easy to just group a whole bunch of people together and to also speak carelessly. They this and they that and create an us versus them and that doesn't really lead to the forward movement.

Genie 56:55

That's deep.

Gahmya 56:55

Yeah. I notice some of the most difficult people to shifting their mindset to speak in lay terms.

Genie 57:10

Because when you pointed it out, what I heard, I heard everything, but I reflected on myself and I said, oh, I use they a lot. My mom uses they a lot and then when you ask me, like, why who who's they? I'm like, oh yeah, you know better, you do better.

Gahmya 57:31

Yeah. So my family too, whenever I go home, it's they, they, they, they, they, they don't, they don't care about us. They, they, they.

Genie 57:43

Oh my god, so but to close it up and I have two more questions, and because it's the cipher, which is a nod to the rapping cipher, I asked you what was your favorite hip hop song and you say Kerry song, which is featured in the movie Beats on Netflix.

Gahmya 58:02


Genie 58:04

Why is that your favorite? So I listen to it and oddly enough, I was testing out my headphones this morning and I have a Spotify playlist and your songs on the playlist. I added to the playlist and that's what came on and I was like, oh, this is oh yeah. I was like this is Gahmya's song. So this is Gahmya's song. So why is that your favorite song?

Gahmya 58:25

I just love it. I love it also because I love the film Beats and I watch the film Beats and it's a big part of the movie and if you watch the movie, it's just so touching. It has so many beautiful elements to it. It uses EFT and teaches the boy who is a black teenager who's using EFT to calm down, reduce his anxiety and just the element of the lyrics and the beat and the it's just the melody, everything together, it just works and I just vibe out to it. I even love the instrumental. I listen to the instrumental all the time and I just get so high whenever it comes on it's a vibe!

Genie 59:13

When I heard it the first time and then let's do it again. This music made me feel like uplifted.

Gahmya 59:20


Genie 59:20

When I listen to the lyrics. I'm like, oh man and then I also know what the movie as well, which you just took it to a whole another level and I'm like, Oh! this is good.

Gahmya 59:35

Yeah and I really feel like. For me, it reminds me of like home. Not particularly my home, but just home, like where you come from and push you to do better, coming from a community. It just all these elements of just like black pride. Yeah. As soon as I heard that song, I just love it. I highly recommend the instrumental because as soon as it comes on, I am distracted, that's all I'm going to say. I'm distracted. I can't do anything else. I'm like dancing and moving around, it's the whole move.

Genie 01:00:27

I'm going to get the instrumental and I close out our call today, which so glad that you were able to be here for us is a quote that you have and to to me, is so powerful and the quote is it is “The mindset of education that is broken.”

Gahmya 01:00:45


Genie 01:00:46

Yes, can you just. Oh, my God, it's when I read it, I was like, yeah, special education.

Gahmya 01:00:52


Genie 01:00:52

What does that mean if any people don't have a context? What does that mean? That mindset of education is broken.

Gahmya 01:01:26

It has a lot of layers to it but the mindset of education is so outdated. It's so authoritative, it is so forced and it's so focused on teaching, it's not growth minded, it's not student focused, it's not joy focused, it's not minority inclusive, it's so many things that that are outdated and not of this new generation and so typically, when I have conversations about what I think is wrong with education, people ask me about the curriculum or the books or the subjects and I'm just like, none of that matters if the mindset is the same, it doesn't matter. It's like, if you're the same person and you're like, I have this problem, I'm going to wear a yellow dress today. You have the same problem in a yellow dress, your mindset is the same. You haven't done anything to improve or better yourself. You're just wearing a yellow dress, and I feel like oftentimes, when we talk about improving education, we just try to put a yellow dress on it, but we don't really try to shift the thinking of it and the entire way that we view education and so much of it to me even the way that we have kids sit at a desk for hours, the entire thought that that is the way that it goes is broken, so I just think the entire view of it needs to be broken apart like Legos, take each bit of the building and separate these Legos and mix them all around like you would do a little kid and start over.

Genie 01:03:16

I agree wholeheartedly. It is so many different pieces that need to be removed, upgraded, changed, instead of like we're just putting the same pieces in the same hole, not even thinking about how people have changed.

Gahmya 01:03:32


Genie 01:03:32

And education. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong. It just seems like the institution of education didn't even have a social emotional context at all, and as a society, we've grown and we are aware of this, so it needs to be added in.

Gahmya 01:03:52

And even there are programs that are trying to include social emotional learning and it's interesting because when I go in and I do trainings, I usually do this training where I give all the teachers a Post-it and I say, okay, write all your hopes and dreams, have one student in mind, just focus on one person and write everything that you want them to accomplish on the Post-it. Never have I had a training where someone has turned the Post-it over. Never. They always use one sided a Post-it, they usually don't fill this up, and I've done this all over the world. Sometimes I tell them to think about their own kids. If they're new educators. I'll say if you're a parent, think about your own child. Think about a child that you're close to and it's heartbreaking because you are the ones who have their hopes and dreams in your hands and you only gave them one side of a Post-it so that's what I mean by the mindset of education is broken. If your mindset isn't even one of abundance, if you don't really believe that they can do anything. If you don't even think that's actually true, how are they supposed to? So we got to start there. We have to do a lot of separating Legos, and it needs to start from the top. We can't just throw in social emotional learning for people to teach it who haven't considered that themselves.

Genie 01:05:22

And help the parents, too.

Gahmya 01:05:24


Genie 01:05:28

Wow! That is powerful because it does start like for parents, like one of the things they ask a parent in IEP meeting is “What do you want for your child?” “Where do you see them?” And a lot of parents don't have to have one answer. I want them to graduate. That's their answer. It totally throws them through a loop. The fact that you answer that question is throwing them through the entire loop. So they have that one answer. I want my child to graduate, but your child is a vision, it's your vision so where do you see them? What are they doing? How are they feeling? Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they empowered? Are they trying to disappear? Because a person, an adult who doesn't want to be seen was a child at one point, something happen to them and they realize being invisible was very depressing and unfortunately, that could be the little girl who has so much to say and she's told to be quiet so much and she's told that you are making too much noise. You're talking too much. What are you talking about? No one's paying attention to you. Fast forward, that's the adult who's quiet, who's depressed, who's anxious. Oh, man, feels good. So in closing, I just want to say thank you so much again and it's like so many things we could talk about, but we're not going to.

Gahmya 01:07:00

Thanks for inviting me!

Genie 01:07:02

You could connect with Gahmya on IG Facebook at Evolved Teacher and her website www.evolvedteacher.com from one parent to another, you are doing the best of what you have. Remember to be patient with yourself and your child. Please subscribe and check out the website www.theparentingcipher.com for additional resources from this episode.

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