Education as the Practice of Freedom (bel hooks)
I walk the hallways of schools and feel the urgency of young people’s yearning for freedom and activity, meaning and purpose for real life. I have been pondering how enough can be done inside school buildings in these micro-managed locked down times.
For years, I’ve contributed my small part to bring breath in the school day through choice, voice, feeling, creativity, thinking, joy, a focus on what is meaningful, what matters to human beings and the planet.
Such a small part in the face of children’s lives at stake.
Will small acts build momentum or do they just enable the system to continue? Is there a political pathway to change the narrative and policy or is that impossibly controlled by other forces? Do we address the underlying issues like poverty, inequity and racism or is that impossible?
For now, all I can do is keep asking the questions and doing my small part when and where I can find a niche. And keep tracking, documenting, picturing the constructive acts that make a difference, no matter how limited in scope they may seem from a distance.
Close up to individuals, each act matters a lot.
A poem from Marge Piercy for inspiration:
The Low Road
What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own media;
ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say ‘We’
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
(from The Moon is Always Female 1996)