Well, I'm a student again! It's been more than ten years since I was last in school, when I did my initial certification and a masters in special education (autism spectrum and developmental disabilities) all at once. After I got over the initial school burnout, which really took some time, I was slow to make moves to continue my studies. For one thing, I couldn't afford it, and I wasn't willing to take out more loans. And for another, while I knew I couldn't take isolated courses, and learn, and work towards my plus-15, I wanted to do something coherent. And it took a long time for me to figure out what that was.
It's happening. I've had a good long stretch of summer since our extended school wrapped up, during which I unplugged my brain from the nitty-gritty of school life, and now that's winding down to a close. This past week, I spent two busy days putting my classroom back together. I enjoyed being in my space, walking through the annual ritual of making it ready for a new year and new kids. I liked returning to the same space as last year (I moved going into last year, so last summer's work was unpacking, reorganizing, starting completely from scratch), and finding ways to refresh it and make it new. The new spot for my calendar alone brings me probably too much satisfaction, not to mention the new bulletin board I created from nothing by fastening cork roll to the wall. Boom. So, the space feels homey and peaceful and fresh...and open, ready to be filled by my small people, with their voices and belongings and projects. And now that I have that in place, it's time for me to spend some time with these questions :
What does life in the Liberatory Library look like this year? How will we fully participate in education as the practice of freedom? What will I do to create space for liberatory education? What can I do (or not do...) to make our life and work together more liberatory?
Early this year, I was given a magical gift from a magical person. The kind you didn't know you wanted or needed or even existed until it appears in your life. This magical person said, I have a little something for you, I saw it and thought of you. When she realized we wouldn't see each other for a little bit, she put it in the mail for me, even though we live in neighboring towns. So one day I got a package on my doorstep, containing this:
I read through it slowly and gradually, and just now finished. It's amazing, in so many ways. I want to put together some thoughts about it, for myself, and for my classroom.
Our teaching should encourage students to ask critical questions of our world. It should prize activism and struggle, and also kindness, joy, and cooperation — a curriculum of empathy that builds essential academic skills and powerful understandings. It’s a time for audacity in our work, not timidity.
I thought it would be best to have this in a separate post from this one with some of my reflections on white supremacy. Below, you can find a number of resources that I found challenging, comforting, inspiring, and helpful, in various and powerful combinations, in the weeks since the events in Charlottesville. Some quotes and annotations will give you an idea what you'll find in each link. It got so long, I just couldn't help it. Even if you don't read all of the articles, there are some really spectacular quotes to check out; the one at the top is a teaser, so you'll keep reading!
In all honesty, I don't know what to write following Charlottesville and walking in this place where a curtain over white supremacy has been lifted, and there's a lot of ugliness staring us in the face. So instead of trying to actually write, the first thing I did was to start compiling resources that amazing folks were posting all over, thinking that I could contribute by sharing them. That's fine, and you can find a bunch of links in this post, and I hope you find them as helpful and as inspiring as I do. But even though it's hard to know what to say, it feels it's more dangerous, and more cowardly, not to even try. So here I go.
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.