KOKOMO, Ind. – As a young boy growing up in Ohio, Todd Bradley walked to school each morning with his mother, a school administrator. Their conversations helped to shape how he lives today, and carried into his teaching career, decades later.
“She told us, ‘Always be sure you try to plant mustard seeds in each other. That’s all we can do,’” he said, explaining she was encouraging him to share ideas the other person can consider, that may grow into expanded wisdom.
Now as an associate professor of political science at Indiana University Kokomo, that philosophy informs his teaching style.
“My goal isn’t to change a student’s mind,” he continued, “My goal is to give them another layer of critical thinking about complex topics so when they leave my classroom, they will have a new perspective on something they took for granted, or believed because it’s what they grew up knowing.”
While he believes Black History Month, celebrated the month of February, is important, that philosophy is also why it’s even more critical to infuse his curriculum with information about contributions African Americans have made in the world.
The month “gives people an opportunity to at least learn superficially about how African Americans have shaped and built our country, and how they continue to nurture our system,” said Bradley, who has taught here since 2003. “It’s important to highlight and provide people mustard seeds for them to have these conversations with others.
“It also gives people seeds to do research beyond February, and have more intelligent conversations about the importance of these individuals who have contributed to our country, past and present. It’s important to highlight not just past accomplishments, but current ones of African American males and females, not just during Black History Month. I weave those accomplishments throughout the academic year. I want students to go beyond, to know the people, and embed this information in everyday conversation.”