The deepest and most profound learning I’ve had from doing anti-oppression work – was the work that I needed to heal and change myself.
We often don’t understand the ways we are individually complicit in causing harm to students and in spite of understanding that the “system” doesn’t work for all students – we still uphold the structures that cause harm.
Given the challenges of doing this via twitter – I want to make this as practical and productive as possible – so that hopefully you take away a spark, an idea, a chance for reflection and most importantly a way to transform your practice.
Some agreements to begin with so we can think of HOW we do this work. Some of these wisdoms I have gained from others and some are my own:
*We are all learners – our identities provide us with some amount of privilege and become barriers we have to overcome in systems
* We are all victims and survivors of colonial systems & education systems are colonial projects – without active work to unlearn – we will perpetuate harm. Some of us benefit to a higher extent and some are harmed to a greater extent. There is no neutral.
* Keeping the above point in mind – we are all “the system” to some extent and healing work, unlearning and new learning is necessary for us not to perpetuate pain and suffering on ourselves and others. At times our own egos and fragility gets in the way of what is best for children and communities. We have to do personal and collective work to address this openly, honestly, vulnerably and courageously. This is the leadership required to change outcomes.
* Our discomfort is the heart of our transformation and collective liberation – This is not about how nice we are, or how much we care but our impact. So we sit in discomfort and when something arises, we will challenge each other respectfully and through wonder . We came to education to make a difference in the lives of children – this is the work we must do and the responsibility we’ve taken to serve. Equity work serves all children and supports society to reach truly democratic goals.
* With great power comes great responsibility: privilege does not mean we didnt work hard. It is a type of “currency” we have in the way the system is currently set up. We didnt ask for it- but we have it. What we do with it- is most important.
* Walk humbly together: we’ve walked in our own identities/experiences. while we can empathize with others, we need to be students of peoples’ experiences whose identities that are different from others. This means listening and where we hold privilege, sometimes being able to hear things that directly contradict our ways of knowing/being in the world. At the same time, it means recognizing we need each other to create change in the world.
* We are the village for the children we serve: we need each other to dismantle systems, structures and processes – so this is not about blame, shame or guilt but about understanding how we each may be complicit in causing harm to groups of children and changing that
* We must work to be ancestors who will make our children proud: Our work in systems cannot be devoid of the responsibility we have to the Earth and the need to change/challenge structures that cause harm.
* We are the change we desire to see in the world: This work requires a balance of safety and risks. Some of us have more privilege or currency to take risks or to amplify voices than others.
If we remember what brought us to education – the desire to make a difference in the lives of children; and a difference in the world – these can serve as powerful signposts to help us along our journey.