For These Inner-City Dads, Fatherhood Comes With Homework : Code Switch : NPR: About two dozen dads — all African-Americans, ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s — are standing in a circle participating in a call-and-response exercise:
Call: You done broke them chains.
Response: From my body and my brain!
Call: But you was deaf, dumb and blind.
Response: 'Til I took back my mind!
It goes on, the resonant voices repeating strengths and goals in unison. Welcome to the start of the responsible-fatherhood class, a group that meets every Monday and Wednesday at the Center for Urban Families in West Baltimore.
This isn't your typical classroom setting. The tables are arranged to face one another. The teachers, like Edward Pitchford, are called fatherhood specialists. They don't lecture at the front, but sit with their students and engage them in discussions based on the day's curriculum: communicating calmly and effectively with the mother of their children; and nurturing their kids, not just paying child support. Today, they're talking about staying strong and positive during a job search.