I just finished the book Unwritten, The Story of a Living System: A Pathway to Enlivening and Transforming Education by Lori L. Desautels and Michael McKnight. One of the quotes that has really stood out to me is “Schools are not machines. Schools are a network of human beings who feel, think, behave, and function within a human system that is alive and never static. Schools are living systems” (2016, pg. xi). The entire book is a manifesto for making our schools more human and less factory-like. Much like the town on Camazotz in Wrinkle in Time, our children are forced through curriculum and grade-levels, without the recognition of each child’s humanity and individuality. At the same time, with the movement to standardized curriculum is stripping away the individuality of teachers.
How does this connect to Chapters 5 & 6? Sara Ahmed encourages us to recognize our Universe of Obligation in which we feel responsible to defend, protect and “upstand” for. Our department is currently re-thinking how we prepare teacher educators who will be able to address social-emotional needs in schools, provide individual education plans and personalized learning for each child, and help children aspire to careers of their choice, not just college-bound. As teacher educators, we need to model social consciousness, social justice, and social imagination with our pre-service and master’s level teachers and to do so, we need to change teacher education which has been entrenched in the same factory model as K-12 education.
As I’m reading Sara’s book, I’m wondering how I’m going to implement these ideas in my courses with pre-service teachers. These last chapter challenge us to be aware of who and what we stand up for (upstanders) and recognize that our intent of communication may be different then our impact. Many of the books listed in the resources stacks starting on page 135 are books that I have shared, but tend to use them under the category of “diverse” books. I appreciate the blog from Chad Everett http://www.imaginelit.com/news/ that Tammie Mulligan shared about that discusses how labeling some books diverse and others non-diverse creates a binary, and we really don’t know how children are going to perceive the books we have in our classrooms.
I also appreciate Sara’s comment that “My parents raised me to do small things with a big heart” (pg. 133). She goes on to state, “There is no magic formula for making the world a better place. It happens in the moments we break our silent complicity, embrace discomfort, and have candid conversations about what stands in the way. As educators, you and I are tasked with giving kids opportunities to show compassion, to be upstanders, and to realize the impact they have in society” (pg. 134). My goal is to share this book with my faculty and work together to model the types of humanity we would like our pre-service teachers to experience and take into their classrooms.