History / Sociology / African American Studies
A Case Study of a School in Rural Alabama which served a Community of African American Children from 1933-1949.
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Uriah J. Fields
The Fields School - An African American School Without Failures
In a time when schools are failing our children, especially African Americans, could it be that taking a careful look at schools, including schools attended solely by African Americans, that were effective in the past, provide insight into why schools are failing today and empower the educational system to operate schools without failures?
One such school, worthy of examination, is the Fields School - a school in Rural Alabama without failures - which served African American children from 1933-1949. Over three-quarters of the sample subjects attending this school had completed a bachelor's degree. Of these, over half, had completed some graduate work, one-third had master's degrees, one a doctoral degree and one a law degree.
President Barack Obama said he was looking for a candidate who demonstrated empathy when he nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be a justice on the Supreme Court. Empathy was as important as the three R's in the Fields School. Renown psychologist Carl R. Rogers says "The state of empathy is to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the 'as if' condition." That is the way my first and only teacher during the first eight years of my schooling demonstated empathy. Empathy triumphed over lack.
The Fields School has been meticulously researched. A personal interview was had with eighty percent of the students and fifty percent of the teachers who taught at the school during the period it existed in the 1930s and 1940s.
The researcher concluded that "The overwhelming success of the Fields School despite the limitations of the physical setting, furnishings, and available materials and books represents a triumph of the unusual family over difficult circumstances. ..the school was an extension of the family's commitment to its children. The story of the family is yet to be written."
Copyright 2009 by Uriah J. Fields
The Fields School came into being because there were many young children in the family who needed to be educated and the nearest public school for African American children in Sunflower was located 3 or 4 miles distant from the Fields community. There was no busing available for black children at the time. (P.15)
In reviewing the data presented in this section pertaining to background information on the subjects interviewed, it is apparent that this group of individuals represented a high degree of success in educational and career achievements.(P. 39)
The Fields family and school appear to have inculcated in its members both a strong sense of autonomy and self-definition, which propelled them to achieve measurable success in their educational,occupational,and life pursuits. All of them seem to have avoided the pitfall of "logofixion",or becoming damaged by the expectations and words of the larger society that tend to cast minority group members in stereotypical roles of society's victims or society's romanticized noble ones. ...They were and are able to live in two worlds, with a minimum of conflict, and gained cultural competence in a black and white world, in the community of their origin, and the society at large. (PP. 52-53
This author who was serving in the Korean War at the time wrote the poem that ends this book for and in honor of his grandfather, about a year before his death at the age of eighty-eight. He was the chief founder of the Fields school.
To lose the earth you know for
To lose the life you have for
To leave the friends you love for
heavenly loving and angelic fellowship;
To find a land more sweet than home
and more awesome than earth.
Behold! a wind is rising and rivers
Your soul too is rising and flowing:
You are communing with the wind
and the rivers.
You, the wind and the rivers are one.