Not Light, but Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom (Paperback)
Do you feel prepared to initiate and facilitate meaningful, productive dialogues about race in your classroom? Are you looking for practical strategies to engage with your students?
Inspired by Frederick Douglass's abolitionist call to action, “it is not light that is needed, but fire” Matthew Kay has spent his career learning how to lead students through the most difficult race conversations. Kay not only makes the case that high school classrooms are one of the best places to have those conversations, but he also offers a method for getting them right, providing candid guidance on:
- How to recognize the difference between meaningful and inconsequential race conversations.
- How to build conversational “safe spaces,” not merely declare them.
- How to infuse race conversations with urgency and purpose.
- How to thrive in the face of unexpected challenges.
- How administrators might equip teachers to thoughtfully engage in these conversations.
With the right blend of reflection and humility, Kay asserts, teachers can make school one of the best venues for young people to discuss race.
About the Author
Matthew R. Kay is a proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools and a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy (SLA). He is a graduate of West Chester University and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership with a Principals’ Certificate from California University of Pennsylvania.
"I found myself thinking, 'How different would the field of education be if Matt Kay had advised John Dewey? How different would I be if Matt Kay had been my teacher?' The answer: radically so. He is that important, and his work on race is that essential."
"A reminder to educators to not sidestep or oversimplify conversations about race, but to engage students in them as scholars with voices and experiences that are just as important as those of the adult in the classroom."
—Erika Smith, Teaching Tolerance
"I can’t recommend this book highly enough for its scaffolding and stories on how to create a classroom culture that supports serious conversations about difficult topics....Having read this book, in many ways I feel I can’t return to the teacher I was....This is not a book to be skimmed in one sitting, but instead to be digested, then acted upon."
—Sarah Cooper, Middleweb
"I’m in love with Matthew’s book. He writes with clarity, passion, and backs up everything he says with experiences or history that hits you right in the chest. As an educator in the world today, we owe it to our students to listen to what Matthew Kay has to say."
—Jacob Chastain, literacy coach and producer, Teach Me, Teacher podcast
This is the book we need to shift the "tried and tired" practice of touting empty rhetoric about race to a practice that puts us firmly on a pathway toward achieving racial equity. Matt is a master facilitator and shares the tools every teacher needs to hone their practice to make conversations about race commonplace.
—Sonja Cherry Paul
"Thoughtful, timely, and beautifully written."
—Kelly Gallagher, author of In the Best Interest of Students and Readicide
— Erika Smith
— Jacob Chastain
— Sonja Cherry-Paul
— Kelly Gallagher
— Cornelius Minor