Thursday, October 25, 2007

High Achieving Low Income Kids are Invisible.

TwitThis

High Achieving Low Income students are all around us.

They remain silent/invisible because they don't have a lobby.

Corn has a lobby, and their interests are served.

Oil has a great lobby. China has one. The Insur has one.

Internet radio has a f*cked up one, but you get my drift.

In reading this article about a homeless high achieving African
American student I wondered to myself whether some White
People get their kicks by talking shit about Black parents.

The student Nicholas Bounds is impressive.
I mean. He is THAT
DUDE.

Nicholas Bounds is one of the top students in my Senior English class. He attends school every day, and often arrives to our first period class early. He works dutifully in class and faithfully completes his homework every night. He writes with honesty, intelligence and intensity. He scored a 23 in Math on the ACT. Nicholas is a shining star in the otherwise stormy night of black male education in the West Side of Chicago.

Nicholas Bounds also lives in a homeless shelter for teenagers. Every day, he leaves the shelter at 7 a.m. for school and arrives back at 11 p.m. after his part-time job at U.P.S. He was telling me the truth; he has been his own parent since he was 15 and in the eighth grade

Nicholas’ mother was a drug-addict and his father was neither stable nor involved. Despite his family upbringing, Nicholas is proud that he has always succeeded in school.

“Since we started getting grades in elementary school, my report cards were A’s and B’s. I have natural intelligence but I always worked hard. I had to push myself,” Nicholas remembers. “I’ve been lucky to have good teachers who believed in me and had a big impact on me. I also benefited from all the clubs I was in like the Boys and Girls Club, where I would go after school to play and receive help with my homework.”

Then I got to the comments section.

The majority of them were warm, receptive, encouraging.

Then there were the "BLACK PARENTS NEED TO ACT RIGHT" comments
that reminded me of that Bill Cosby koolaid. Feel me.

Trill talk.

Here is an example of a person who has far better resilience than kids from money and family.

However, black parents should know how black girls and boys are going to wind up if they don’t step up to the plate in terms of parenting and mentoring. If you go to any black-plurality city, there’s crisis that is NOT in the hands of everyone else, but black parents and black sisters, brothers, families.

Nick is an example of someone who defied the odds. Most fail and never make it out of high school. What are black people going to do about this????

— Posted by G

But you know what. The majority of the comments were so f*cking positive
that I can't even continue on with my the intended tone of my argument.

But then again......
Another comment came along and said it for me.

GOD. I love when people feel me.

Its all cool to want to start a scholarship fund for Nick, and I would gladly contribute, but I think you’re all missing HIS point. He is calling for change in the system so that others in his situation can get the help and support that was instrumental in his survival against all odds. So call upon your state and local representatives to provide funding for such support, or volunteer at a local support organization, or do SOMETHING! Just helping Nick is not enough.

— Posted by Gene Tee


=======
=======

Dear Bill Cosby,


Your brilliant, warm and generous. And I know you mean well.

But.

Please write more about OUR success stories and
specific strategies on how to address the problems
that we face, rather than rant about how our pants hang low.

Otherwise you sound like a crankety old man.

- Model Minority

=========
=========


What is one thing, you would tell Bill Cosby
during a sit down?


What is one thing, one measurable thing,
you would
change about education?

About Hip Hop? About Black people?

DID I MENTION MEASURABLE.

========
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26 comments:

Moniker said...

Tell that niggero to wake the fuck up and smell the asphalt.

When is the last time he left the comfort of his luxury couch to help those he condemns?
How can he really comment on how children are raised? Last I remembered, his WIFE did most of that.

One thing I would change about education? Holding teachers accountable; and I don't mean through these routine tests implemented by the state as a result of "No Child Left Behind". Measure a teacher's ability to TEACH and NOT their ability to regurgitate information. I wish teachers would learn that there IS a difference.

the prisoner's wife said...

moniker...

what does "holding teacher's accountable" really mean? and how can you measure anyone's ABILITY to TEACH?

your last statement implies we don't know how to teach but rather we read from books & spit random facts. i can't tell you how much PD (prof. development) is shoved down our throats to basically "teach to the test" & raise our API and AYP scores.

i can't tell you how much we WISH we could turn our classrooms into research labs, writing workshops, exploratory havens....HOWEVER, you try being hog-tied by some BS standards & benchmark tests & periodic assessments & fire-breathing administrators & big-ass bureaucratic districts & working WITHOUT parental support (umm, 8 parents showed up to my class on back to school night!) & 50 kids to YOUR class & trying to help kids who have IEPs, while those who CAN work independently are bored out of their mind. it's like doing a one-legged tap dance & i'd DARE you to try it.

it amazes me how easy people think teaching is and how whenever we get into some "let's do something about education" dialogue, teachers are always the one to blame.

yes, we have the MOST contact with the kids, but we can only do so much. and there are plenty of us (hood) teachers who give all that we have to just see SOME kind of success for our students, just one freaking "Aha! moment". we can't do this shit alone, yo. where is the government & district accountably? where are the parents? where are the grandparents? uncles? big brothers & sisters?

i think if we want to effect education is some MEASURABLE way we need to start with parenting classes...and dare i say, mandatory parenting classes. SO many of my kids are they way they are (umm, fucked up) cuz their parents are fucked up. roses growing through concrete only happens every so often, most times you end up with weeds.

M.Dot. said...

i think if we want to effect education is some MEASURABLE way we need to start with parenting classes
========

I'll take your one and raise you.

How to be a high impact teacher.
How to be a high impact student.
How to be a high impact parent.
I also think a "How to Advocate" class would be helpful as well.

Moniker said...

@ the prisoner's wife.

You're right. The issue goes beyond teachers. They can't solely be held responsible for the ills of our educational system. However, I was asked ONE measurable thing I would change about the educational system, not how I would completely restructure it.

I am a student and while I am able to understand and appreciate the challenges that teachers face, my viewpoint will be that of a student.

I can only speak from my experience and in my experience, teachers I've encountered could care less about schooling, who graduates, or if a student is truly understanding the material being taught to them.

I know teachers who will give notes four days of the week and then give a test on Friday without really TEACHING anything. They copy facts from their book onto an overhead and then spend four consecutive days sitting back while they watch their students copy notes. How is that teaching me anything?

I know teachers who refuse to spend time after school helping their students understand the work they assigned and if the student is lucky and gets a teacher who will, they'll only spend ten minutes at the most.

I get tired of the system blaming parents. My mom didn't go to school to teach. It's not the parent's responsibility to do what a teacher is getting paid to do. Why is it a parent's responsibility to come home after a hard day's work and RE-TEACH what the teacher was supposed to teach during the time given to them? It's not.

Now what is the parent's responsibility is setting the foundation of their child and providing them the materials and will in order to learn.
It is not my mom's job to teach me trig. functions, feel me?

The problem is far reaching.
Everyone's to blame.
I have friends who refuse to pay attention in class and then bitch come quarter grades. Whose fault is that? Their's.
The government's to blame for establishing a system of classism that, in most cases, forces people of color to start ten steps backwards before taking a single step forward. They're to blame for the conditions a lot of us grow up in and society is to blame for encouraging it.
The parent is to blame for not communicating the importance of an education to their child.
The educational system is to blame for establishing benchmarks and standardized tests which fail to correctly assess the level of education and comprehension of a student.
And teachers are to blame for focusing less on teaching and refusing to hold themselves accountable for their own students and their own actions.

When it comes to problems with the educational system, there is no one to pass the buck to. Everyone's hands are dirty.

stephen said...

My mom didn't go to school to teach. It's not the parent's responsibility to do what a teacher is getting paid to do. Why is it a parent's responsibility to come home after a hard day's work and RE-TEACH what the teacher was supposed to teach during the time given to them?
****
Because it's her child.



When it comes to problems with the educational system, there is no one to pass the buck to. Everyone's hands are dirty.
****
You've mentioned everyone else, but I'd like to hear about the dirt on your hands.

the prisoner's wife said...

I get tired of the system blaming parents. My mom didn't go to school to teach. It's not the parent's responsibility to do what a teacher is getting paid to do.
==========================

i respectfully disagree. your mother is a teacher. she teaches you how to act, informs your moral conscious, teaches you language, values, and culture. she is the most important teacher you have & will ever have.

i am both a teacher AND student, so i can understand both sides. i'm sure lots of students are frustrated (hell, i'm bored and frustrated 2 nights a week!). however, my gripe was that you seemed to be making SUCH sweeping statements about teachers when the majority of us our out here doing the damn thing, IN SPITE OF.

teaching is an art, not a science. it is as much about the relationship you have with the kids, as it is about what you're teaching.

everyday i watch my students goof off, tune out, and believe me it's not because i'm lecturing to them day in & day out, it's simply because they are not interested in education. being smart isn't cool, especially to urban middle school kids.

parents are the first & most-powerful teachers we have. they can either set their child up for success, or put them on the path to failure. i continue to go back to parents (i am one by the way) because WE are responsible for our children. WE (parents) have the power to affect a cultural shift in how we teach our kids to feel about education.

my parents CONSTANTLY read with me, my mom would buy math activity books for me when we went grocery shopping, my dad was always proud & rewarded me (not just with things) whenever i got good grades. so education was something we were brought up to value. i never doubted that i would go to college, while many of my peers ended up with babies by 16 and have yet to walk a stage.

yes, it is wrong to constantly blame parents, but because they are SUCH a powerful influence, i think it starts with them. if a child comes to me lacking the necessary social AND academic skills needed to succeed in the7th grade, that makes my job THAT much harder. however, if i have a proactive parent who loves & supports their child, and the child has a few academic issues, we can work together to get their child be successful.

Moniker said...

@ stephen

In my opinion, that's reaching. It is not my mom's responsibility to teach me what I'm supposed to be taught while in school. If that were the case, what would be the use of having teachers?

When I say everyone's hands are dirty, I'm saying we all have a responsibility to one another. Passing that responsibility doesn't accomplish anything.

As a black male I'm already at a disadvantage.
However, I go to school.
I am involved.
I do community service.
I maintain a 4.0
I mentor.
I play sports.
And I help my peers in those subjects in which they need assistance.
So as for the "dirt" on my hands, I can't say I have any. I'm already doing something about it. Now ask yourself, are you?

So at the risk of sounding crude, miss me with that shit.

Moniker said...

@ the prisoner's wife

To be honest, I think we're saying the same thing.
My first reply to this topic was one thing I would change about the educational system, but that reply was never meant to imply that it began and ended with teachers. I completely understand that it is a community effort and in order to change the quality of education and begin improving the standards and methods used to educate our children we have to start with social and personal change.

I'm glad you are a teacher who takes an interest in all of her students, but I think we'd be living in fantasy land if we ignored the fact that there are teachers across this nation who don't possess that same quality.

In all my years of being in school, I can count on one hand the number of teachers who really loved teaching and loved being involved and encouraging their students. I'm afraid to say it, but you are definitely not the norm.

And while the burden of the ills of our educational system do not rest on the shoulders of teachers, you all do have a hand in the pot. A teacher can make you hate school. Just as a single teacher can inspire you, a single teacher can make you resent all teachers from that point forward and loathe education and everything associated with it. I've had teachers tell me (and other students of color) that we weren't going to be anything. I've had teachers discriminate against their students of color by refusing to invest their time in educating us while assisting and encouraging their white students (despite the fact we were all in the public educational system and therefore all in the same fucked up bowl). I've lived that.
So excuse me if I don't believe all teachers are doing all they can and telling their students, "Be the best you can be!"

the prisoner's wife said...

you're right. all teachers aren't doing their jobs, like all parents (sorry lol) aren't doing theirs.

& i agree that we are both basically saying the same thing.

i dunno. although i'm a product of the hood, i had sort of a privileged educational experience because i've NEVER gone to public schools (and won't be sending my son to one either), so my educational experience was a bit different(?). i was usually dealing with the issue of being one of few black kids in my class & being teased around my way for being " acting white" cuz i was "smart." but all in all my teachers were competent...can't say uber inspiring, but they did the job.

back to the topic at hand tho...

measurable things...

it's so hard to find things that can be MEASURED (at least IMO), because education is filled with inequalities. inner-city schools are at a disadvantage. our students come with a myriad of issues (emotional, familial, educational) so finding ways to measure success is extremely difficult & i'm not sure if there are ANY surefire ways to do so.

some ideas for improvement:

1. by 7th grade it is said that children should be reading a million words per year. i'd suggest we get our kids to read more. have each teacher assign independent reading. i'm starting on Monday to make my kids keep a reading log & get their books/magazines approved before hand. this will help to raise our literacy rate, which (as m. dot blogged before) may lower prison rates. literacy is one of THE most important skills we should all have.

Changeseeker said...

I agree with moniker that Cosby is too far removed to get it. As far as education is concerned, if I could change one thing, it would be to stop making it advantageous to the teacher/school to get rid of kids who have already been failed by the system because they haven't been given the skills they need to fully participate in life. The way it is now, teachers feel they are better off (even financially sometimes) to dump kids who are going to bring down the stats.

Poor children in general and children of color in particular have been given short shrift almost across the board. We need to stop pointing fingers and start providing what the kids need. Food, clothes, a safe community, and respect would be a good place to start. And then whatever is necessary to help them learn how to read would come next (duh). But if a society gives a child good nutrition, a safe place to grow up, a kick-ass ability to read, and some self-respect, they better be ready to let that kid grow up to be ALL that they can be.

The problem is not education as an institution or parents or teachers or even the children. The problem, as I see it, is the institutionalized system of oppression by which all this mess was started and is maintained. The educational system (just as Carter G. Woodson wrote so long ago) is doing EXACTLY what it was set up to do--and well. First things first. In the meantime, let's support the ones we can see (like Nicholas).

BTW, m.dot, I'm linking to this post sometime today.

The said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the prisoner's wife said...

the problem, as I see it, is the institutionalized system of oppression by which all this mess was started and is maintained.
===============================

changeseeker,

i agree there needs to be a societal shift, HOWEVER, while we wait for that mystical, magical day to arrive, our kids will continue to get left behind.

i dig these types of conversations, but i'm always left wondering...what now?

what (non-idealistic) concrete things can we do NOW that will prepare our kids for the battle they will constantly face?

Stephen said...

As a black male I'm already at a disadvantage.
However, I go to school.
I am involved.
I do community service.
I maintain a 4.0
I mentor.
I play sports.
And I help my peers in those subjects in which they need assistance.
So as for the "dirt" on my hands, I can't say I have any. I'm already doing something about it. Now ask yourself, are you?
****
@ Moniker,

I recognize your *credentialing* and what I perceive to be the beginning stages of your victimization mentality (word to John McWhorter) and of an oversized sense of entitlement regarding things you should be doing (word to Chris Rock)...

Now if I were to claim that I was the smart black kid who liked being smart, who received an award as one of the top 100 public high school kids in his state, received a full-ride for undergrad, received full tuition for law school, mentored at a KIPP school during law school, and who now works in the community with black churches and schools, even though I've passed two bar exams (one of which while I was flat broke and couldn't pay for the review course)...

Really, what would that prove?

Perhaps it would make it much easier for me to look down at the Nicholases of the world, think to myself "Sucks to be him," and be thankful that my hands probably even cleaner than yours, right?

But none of our *credentials* erases the responsibility all of us, all of us, have in correcting the system, and pointing fingers isn't going to solve it. Parents have to believe that teachers have their child's best interest at heart, teachers have to be willing to work with parents and be held accountable, and children have to be willing to learn. Until we create that type of environment, where people are in relationship and are seeking what's in their mutual interests, armchair quarterbacks are going to be content to vent about how bad the system is while doing little to nothing to solve it.

Period.

To answer your question, the reason it's your mom's responsibility is you are her child. Not your teacher's, not your principal's. If you are not receiving a quality education, it's your mom's responsibility to be your advocate and secure you a better education.

"Why is it a parent's responsibility to come home after a hard day's work" is the same reasoning people use to not get involved in their communities, and not fight against the pressures that are destroying our families.

Until people say "I work 50 hours a week and I'm still willing to do whatever is necessary to benefit my family, my neighborhood, my community, because my son and daughter are worth it..." the societal ills are not going anywhere, and will continue to get worse.

stephen said...

i dig these types of conversations, but i'm always left wondering...what now?

what (non-idealistic) concrete things can we do NOW that will prepare our kids for the battle they will constantly face?
****
Admittedly I'm a non-parent, but I think the first thing a parent can do is build a relationship with your child's teachers, so that there is trust, and a relationship formed outside of a crisis. And if you are in relationship with other parents, gently suggest they do the same.

We have to take back our schools; the "Education Industrial Complex" isn't going to give them up without a fight.

Moniker said...

@ stephen

I get your point.
My listing what I've done (and am currently doing) was in no way meant to boast. However, I took your question as saying, "Well nigga, what are you doing?"
My point was to say that I am doing something and have been doing something for awhile now. I'm not sitting around waiting for someone to improve my situation nor am I allowing those around me to succumb to (what I perceive to be) one of the biggest traps in our educational system (falling behind, having no one to assist you in catching up, and therefore never doing so).

I understand parents have a responsibility to their child. In fact, I remember stating such some replies ago. I'm lucky in that my mom explained the seriousness of being a black male in America my first day of first grade (no shit. How's that for a good morning?). I also understand that in order for a child to have the appreciation of receiving an education, a foundation has to be set down by their guardian.

However, growing up, I've never expected my mom to teach me what I should be taught in school. Never. My mom taught me about life. She helped me understand what it means to be black in this fucked up world in which we all live. However, that woman couldn't assist me in Calculus to save her life. Is she supposed to be my advocate? My caregiver? My guardian? My protector? Definitely.
But is she supposed to be my business instructor, math teacher, english professor? No.
She pays the state to find teachers who have gone to school who are capable of doing that. To me, simply saying "It's the parent's responsibility!" is passing the buck. It's not holding teachers responsible. It's not holding the school board responsible. It's not holding the state responsible.

As I said earlier, the task of receiving a good education is everyone's responsibility. I don't remember ever saying it was the responsibility of one individual in particular.

One thing mentoring has reinforced to me is that the problems start early. I had fifth and sixth graders who (at such a young age) already hated school. I had teachers who were so disinterested in their students and in teaching that they reveled in the duty of being able to label a particular student "troubled" and "incapable of learning". Parents who weren't involved in their child's life and a school administration that focused more on blaming others than taking responsibility itself.

In fact, I had one student who came to me after being labeled a troubled student with difficulty learning by the faculty. After being mentored by me for a few months, he opened up to me and told me a teacher, in one of her rants, had openly told him in front of the class that he "was stupid" and "would be better off focusing more on sports than education" because that was the only way he was "going to make it anywhere". She spent more time screaming than teaching. And help after school? That was non-existent.
I personally worked with him. He wasn't stupid and he understood things perfectly. She had just criticized him to the point he no longer felt like trying.

My point has always been that the responsibility is everyone's.
However, I do believe (as I said earlier) that having a teacher that cares for her students, takes an interest in her students, and is proactive in assisting her students in achieving is a big factor.

We've all had those friends who came from good homes. Parents were encouraging and loving. Friends who were good people and "way back then" in the early stages of education, were excited to learn. Friends who happened to encounter a series of bad teachers who just didn't give a fuck and began to adopt that same attitude to their own education.

My point is that as much as it's my responsibility to want to get an education and my parent's responsibility to reinforce that will and desire, it is a teacher's duty their job, teach me what I am to be taught, and do whatever she can (provided I am putting in effort) in order to make sure I understand.

Simple as that.

M.Dot. said...

OMG.

All a I gotta say.

***thinks to self...I just wanted to write about Nick...and ya'll negros in her beefin'.... Its a weird feeling when you write something...and the comments go quasi viral mm style.

the prisoner's wife said...

thinks to self...I just wanted to write about Nick...and ya'll negros in her beefin'....
==================

lol that's what happens when the topic is interesting AND so necessary! i wouldn't say we're beefin, but rather participating in a lively debate, which is how we begin the process of coming up with ideas to remedy this problem.

Admittedly I'm a non-parent, but I think the first thing a parent can do is build a relationship with your child's teachers, so that there is trust, and a relationship formed outside of a crisis.
==============================

i SO agree. i am a parent & i'm also a public school teacher who is sometimes VERY frustrated because many of my students are either parent-less (foster kids or live in a group home) OR have parents who, for whatever reason, aren't involved in their education.

when i am able to connect with parents, the results are almost magical. i have the kid's attention because they know i'm quick to call mom or dad (for good things & not so good), the parent stays on top of the child to make sure they "get it" & when there is some sort of problem, we work together to solve it. i can't even begin to stress how important parent support is when the student is not intrinsically motivated.

Moniker said...

@ m.dot

Lol. Nah, no beef. I happen to like discussin' shit like this. It's always interesting to get into a debate with someone who is just as passionate about their opposing position as you are about your's.

neo said...

I guess I'm in the minority that sided with Bill Cosby, rants be they harsh or not we as black folks need to hold ourselves accountable, if we don't do that who will? Will we rather wait for YT to lash out at us and tell us to do better? I think folk got mad at Bill largely 'cos he did it out in the open not within the community so to speak...

What measurables in education? This is a hard one..I guess we could start with organizing programs during school hours where students are encouraged to read, make reading fun, try to encourage a local celeb or someone of standing whom the kids respect to talk to them about books not being a nightmare but something they can enjoy reading...y'know like those reading is fun posters with LL, Denzel, Oprah and 'em in hbcu college libraries..

M.Dot. said...

What measurables in education? This is a hard one
==========

Well yall don't pay me to ASK the easy questions.

M.Dot. said...

Changeseeker.

I am honored.

AND.

Its good to see you in the commments.

J!!! said...

This is what you call a jackpot post dot.

Id tell Bill produce more shows, documentaries, plays etc.,or just be more hands on in setting an example for blacks rather condemn them for not finding their own way, when there are not many Role models in or community we can openly follow and use as an example.

Whites have thorough examples all day on TV and other area's of life.

I'd spend alot more money trying to expose young black youth to other walks of life. so they could at least have a real life experience of the world outside the box they call "The block".

Id make rappers more cunning and appealing. the gangster rappers, claim they are, but never really rap too intelligently and the ones that got something to say, arent really appealing. there is no real happy medium. id make there be more of a happy medium.

Id change black peoples diet. Out here in south florida, I see some of the Haitians eat some of the mose heinous food for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Example: I watched a man, walk in to the hood spot, where all the food is pre cooked hours earlier and set under a heat lamp and basically kept luke warm for most of the day, and get some honey bbq wings throw hot sauce on it, ketchup, and heres the kicker, an actual mountain of refined white sugar. His justification : "yall dont know how to eat out here, this is how we do it in Tennessee!"

Gone

Rent Party said...

Great post. And NCLB is bad. You can't teach because you have to do test prep. That's OK for the kids who have college educated parents and so on, they get school related info at home, but those who don't, you have to really teach.

M.Dot. said...

J!!! said...

This is what you call a jackpot post dot.
=========

I LOVE BEING CALLED DOT, btw.

How is Florida J.

It was fucking 82 degrees here today in Oakland.

THEY call it earthquake weather.


"yall dont know how to eat out here, this is how we do it in Tennessee!"
======

=Priceless.

M.Dot. said...

You can't teach because you have to do test prep.
=======

Yo.
Standardized tests are a reality and they keep A LOT OF women and brown folks and Brown womenfolks out of LAW SCHOOL, MED SCHOOL, MBA programs, COLLEGE.....

Ryane said...

This is a worthy and necessary conversation to be having, and I am grateful to be joining in.

For starters, here are just a few scary statistics about low-income school ages children:
• During the school year, lower income children’s skills improve at nearly the same rate as their more advantaged peers. Alexander and Entwisle (1996).
• Approximately two thirds of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Summer learning shortfall experienced by low-income children over the elementary grades has consequences that reverberate all throughout children’s schooling, and can impact whether a child ultimately earns a high school diploma and continues on to college. (Alexander et al. (2007)
• Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. (Cooper et al. 1996) – This statistic equates to 24 months of loss in both math and reading for a low-income students as compared to their middle-class counter parts.

Programs such as Emerging Scholars Program are addressing this challenge each and everyday on behalf of low-income students through the Scholars Academy – a 14-month social and academic enrichment program aimed at developing future leaders from overlooked segments of our society. Checkout emergingscholarsprogram.org for more information.

“Achievement Trap: The Success and Struggle of America's High-Achieving Lower-Income Students” (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation & Civic Enterprises, LLC) is a fantastic read!

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