In his new book, What I Learned in the Midst of KAOS: The Making of an Ubuntu Teacher, published by Full Circle Press and co-authored with Dr. Marina V. Gillmore, Dr. Shields crafts an educational narrative of timeless complexity and significance. Full of messages that are simultaneously universal and deeply rooted in a sense of place and time, this groundbreaking new book takes the reader on an emotional journey from the South Side of Chicago to the West Lawn of the White House and from the halls of an HBCU in Louisiana to the beaches of Puerto Rico.
The book reveals specific strategies that Dr. Shields and his team have been using to motivate, uplift, and empower boys of color for decades, including how to tap in to their natural competitiveness and peer-sensitivity to how to structure rituals that mimic their instinctual need for hierarchy and brotherhood and how to empower educators, especially our largely white female teaching force, to find points of connection and relevancy relative to both academic achievement and social-emotional competencies.
In addition, this book is in part a coming-of-age story about how Dr. Shields responded to the chaos in his life, first as a young man and student growing up on the South Side of Chicago, then as a college student and community leader, and finally as a man who became an Ubuntu teacher. The stories also juxtapose his years as a high-risk male, growing up in gang territory, and being expelled from school with his years as a Teach for America corps member and classroom teacher. They also chronicle his journey to becoming a social entrepreneur, fighting for academic and social equity for urban youth.
The connection between Dr. Shields’ evolution as a teacher and the brotherhood that defined his teenage years is a tight one. His strong brotherhood helped navigate the segregated and gang-ridden streets of the South Side of Chicago and the racism that governed his high school.
“In this important new book, Shields draws on his own experience as a youth growing up in Chicago on what it takes to reach and teach urban youth, especially young men of color today. For those intent on making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable children, this book is an invaluable asset and a powerful source of information.”