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SEED Seminars Offered to Eau Claire Area Educators

RELEASED: Oct. 21, 2005

2005-06 SEED seminar schedule:

Nov. 29, Dec. 13, Jan. 31, Feb. 21, March 28, April 26, May 10

All meetings are from 4:15 to 7:15 p.m. at South Middle School, Eau Claire.

EAU CLAIRE — Area teachers have a new opportunity to get involved in a professional development project aimed at helping them make their school climates and curricula more gender inclusive and multiculturally equitable.

Although the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum is in its 20th year of establishing teacher-led faculty development seminars in the United States and in English-speaking international schools, SEED — Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity — is relatively new to Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley.

Deb Patee
Deb Pattee,
SEED facilitator

Deb Pattee, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, facilitated SEED seminars for eight years in Minnesota for the Winona School District before bringing them to Eau Claire when she joined the university faculty last year. Now she is teaming with South Middle School health education teacher Stephanie Rowe to offer the seminars to local teachers. The seminars are scheduled once each month throughout the school year and are free of charge except to participants who opt to take them for three graduate credits. Each participant receives free books and materials valued between $50 and $100.

Pattee led the first SEED seminar last year with six participants, so she is excited about having twice that many to start with this fall. And although the group started in September and has already had its meeting for October, Pattee wanted area teachers to know it is not too late to join this year's group. The group meets from 4:15 to 7:15 p.m. at South Middle School. Discussion topics will include issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, age and disability. The group will explore these topics through a variety of activities, including readings, videos, exercises, journaling and interacting with guest speakers.

"We start by having people think about oppression and getting them to name some of the different ways in which oppression exists," said Pattee, "and then we work on ways to counter it."

Pattee went on to explain that in all incidents of oppression, people play one of four roles. Either they are the target of oppression, an agent of oppression (or the oppressor), an ally (someone who tries to step in and stop the oppression) or a bystander (someone who sees the oppression but does nothing).

"People gradually begin to see that some types of oppression are so built into the system that they're invisible to many of us," Pattee said.

Facilitators for SEED seminars complete an intensive seven-day preparation workshop. Pattee did her training nine years ago in Minnesota, where SEED has been very popular, and the Eau Claire Area School District recently demonstrated their support for the project by having Rowe trained in Chaska, Minn. this past summer.

"My SEED facilitator training experience has been life changing," said Rowe. "The training helped me examine my own hidden bias and stereotypes. … I believe education and conversation can help break the cycle of oppression. Everyone can make a difference in decreasing oppression — one thought and action at a time."

SEED seminars, once started, often continue for many years, with participants coming back year after year to keep refreshing their teaching methods and curricula and build on their past experiences. Pattee hopes that many of this year's participants will choose to come back next year for a SEED II.

"The participants in our SEED I class are very reflective, thoughtful educators who want to be challenged so they can further empower their learners," added Rowe.

Directors of the the National SEED Project are Dr. Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, who has taught in six schools and colleges; Emily Style, an English teacher who has taught in private school, urban and suburban New Jersey public schools, and has done adjunct teaching for Cornell and New York University; and Dr. Brenda Flyswithhawks, instructor in psychology at Santa Rosa Junior College in California.

Each year they are joined at a Leaders' Workshop by experienced SEED leaders in various disciplines who have diverse ethnic backgrounds. The project provides various types of technical assistance throughout the year for SEED seminars, which have now been led by coordinators in over 30 U.S. states, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, and Dar Es Salaam.

For more information on the SEED seminars, contact Pattee, (715) 836-5269 or patteedk@uwec.edu, or Rowe, (715) 852-5291 or srowe@ecasd.k12.wi.us.

-30-

NW

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