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During my research studies, I came across the Interpretive/Critical Continuum which is designed to serve as a self reflective tool based on the researcher's stance or position in relation to the specific research query. It asks the question, "what does it mean for you to balance, integrate, or choose between interpretive and critical emphases in your own research?" This is a question I ask myself quite often; this question is one of value in the arena of qualitative research, but it is also a valid question in the realm of educating our youth. 

I refrain from using the term "at-risk" or "academically challenged" to describe those students, we as educators,are failing to reach. As a matter of fact, I rather define the educators who are failing to reach these students as "at-risk educators". You see, we as educators must develop a collective sense of urgency when it comes to the holistic development of our youth. In order to grow on the Critical Continuum, educators must move from questions such as:(1)"What appears to be going on here? How can I make sense of it all?" to questions that ask: (2)"Should I assume the privilege of showing those in the setting perspectives or choices that they might not even know they have?" 


The first question, which is low on the Critical Continuum, places the educator in the realm of "making sense of the way things are"; however, the second question moves the educator into the milieu of "unsettling and transforming the way things are". While moving from left to right on the Continuum, the educator is moving from a space of emphasis on understanding toward an emphasis on change. Until we as a collective whole move toward taking responsibility for raising the critical consciousness of those students/communities in great need, we will never reach the goal of empowering those who are socially, emotionally, and financially disenfranchised.

The road to this reversal or awakening begins with the educator's vow to grow on the Critical Continuum. There must be a critical shift from understanding to implementing change. In order for the educator to evolve as a change agent, she/he must assume responsibility for raising her own and others' critical consciousness around issues of power and justice. So, I ask my fellow educators, where are you on the Critical Continuum? 

-Elford Rawls-Dill 

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