Sunday, May 1, 2011

Radical Education

I read once that radical means grasping something at its' roots.

It took me more than a minute to get what this meant, so maybe I can share my process of understanding cause I feel like it helps illuminate how I finally get to the crux.

Big Ol' Metaphor
The medium is the message. This is what I realized in this process, the 'how' is just as important as the 'why' and sometimes more so.

North American/European ideals and colonization itself relies upon a symptomatic (probably not the right word, I would love to get another) linear understanding of the world in order to oppress and exploit.

The Message
Another way to think about this, is that what happened second gets told first. i.e. "Columbus discovered America" as opposed to "First Nations people living on Turtle Island had complex societies all across the continent and Columbus couldn't navigate his way out of a paper bag and somehow made it to their homes."
This type of messaging or propaganda is necessary because it allows for the empty and unrelenting pursuit of profit and policies that support this.
Another example is 'The War On Crime" as a policy as opposed to recognizing that people commit crimes because of being cash-poor and oppressed, lacking access to basic human rights like healthcare, self-determination, right to education that affirm their identity. As well realizing that many people in prison didn't commit crimes at all, but we have an inherently racist system.

The truth is, it's all just a cover for ensuring the perpetuation of legalized slavery of these "criminalized", "demonized" bodies of Black, Brown & Red bodies.

The Delivery/The Medium
It needs to be linear as opposed to circular, because that shapes the mode of understanding. Linear and monotheistic means that there is only one model, one path, one right answer, one god and only ONE right answer.

So all this to say that I think that what would be radical would be to grab things at the root with our whole hands encircling the plant.
The roots are the content and a full 360 grab will now be the method of delivery.

Bear with me family,

I am proposing that education go down way differently.
I am proposing that these institutions like 'elementary school' or 'university' teach the practical.

Community educators teach the practice.

Elders, in particular people of colour, teach and tell stories (because that is what history is at it's root, adding 'his' to the front of story does not add to its' legitimacy in my opinion. Stories from our past should be told by many different people in order to share many different perspectives)

Children would teach joy, honesty, playfulness and remind us of the basic things in life we need to survive. Nat's nephew Faenin is so self-aware that he has been able to turn to me and tell me "I am grumpy because I have to poo." Sometimes friends, that is all people need, sometimes people are just full of shit.

And what if we qualified them all as educators, even the media.
And they articulated their responsibility as educators.
And no one was exempt from this responsibility, we were all held accountable and we all took ownership of educating our young.
And it was actually a village, a global village that was committed to raising our young as though they all were our own.
And educators wouldn't have to fight against horrible, irresponsible and damaging messages. Instead we would be in it together.
And mothers, aunties, fathers and humans would all be honoured for the role in educating.

Let it be clear that we wouldn't all be performing the same role, there would still be a separate and distinct space for those who chose education as a life's purpose or career. We would not be participating in this in the same way, that doesn't make us all valuable and complementary.

This would mean that the work would be done by millions as opposed to few and there would be structural change to support this.

I also want to recognize that the trauma of past generations, particular of Red, Black, Brown, and Yellow folks and even current experiences can leave many unable to speak, to share stories. I know that the legacy my family has passed down to me has often been silence, secrets and shame. This too is something that we can learn from. I don't have delusions that this would be easy, but I would like to talk to my community about the stories we need to tell to our youth and to each other. I would like to hold advertisers and food companies accountable for the lies that they tell in the pursuit of profit.

I was lied to for a long time in our 'traditional' school system. From Columbus to the war of 1812, I only began to learn some of the truth in university. During my 3rd or 4th African History class, I cried, there was so much I didn't know. And since taking my learning into my own hands and into the arms of my community, I have been able to root myself as part of a narrative of cultural creators, activists, nurturers, femmes, as well as Red, Black, Brown, and Yellow people. My story is woven together from the stories we never hear. The moment I began this learning journey, my ability to self-determine drastically transformed. No one could name me, I now had the language and context to name myself.

This is radical.

1 comment:

  1. Wicked start Kim, and thanks for sharing this in it's development. That's rad! Doing so further supports your "circular theory" (if I can interpret it further), that no one explanation or theory will educate in isolation, we need a plethora of stories and theories and interpretations of those stories and theories (roots, trunk, branches, leaves, little squirrels living in cute nests) that all come together to illustrate the whole.
    You asked for feedback, and while I know this will come together brilliantly here are some thoughts. I'd love to hear more about what institutional practical education would look like, also I was thinking it might be really powerful if you use one or two of your examples (eg. the telling of Canada's colonization, or "War on Crime" or generational trauma) and thread it throughout as you develop this piece. Your varied explanations of those would be really profound I think, especially used to illustrate your multiple kinds of education. Oh! also would love to hear your thoughts on how to begin "hard" conversations with children, and how to build this into education so that kids aren't having their first conversations about race, or sexuality, or power at 14... 14 is awkward and painful enough as it is :P. Lastly, for the word you were looking for what about simplistic? or self-fulfilling?
    But yeah, great work! Keep at it! I miss you!