As Aral keeps saying to me (and I reluctantly agree), we have to do these things the hard way so we can work out how to make them easier. It is the essence of what we’re trying to achieve at Ind.ie. I am not being defeatist when I say that these tasks are often beyond my means. Beyond my means in financial cost, ability, time, and confidence.
So look at the power of the tools you have at your disposal. Look at what you can do with a camera. With a computer. With your voice and your connections. Look at whose voices are missing in your classroom. Look at who your students need to meet so that they can change their ideas of others.
We say we teach all children, but do we teach all stories? Do we teach the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or just the sanitized version that will not ruffle any feathers? I can choose to bring others into our classrooms so that their stories are told by them. I can choose to model what it means to question my own assumptions and correct my own wrongs.
... winning not by being better, but by rigging the competition in your favour. Erecting economic barriers to employment via the high cost of taking an internship is just one more way to reserve the highest-status jobs for the elite.
If we’re serious about making schools better, then we can’t concede the topics of equity and social justice to the neoconservatives while re-shaping schooling to make it even more congenial to the structures that make people increasingly precarious. Makers and entrepreneurs aren’t the answer to the questions we have about equity. We’re not all pawns in some power struggle between the neoconservative and neoliberal movements, between the Champions and Pirates, as if there has only been one game in town, a match to which we must all buy tickets and watch.
The concept of empowerment has more radical roots. In The Will to Empower (1999), Barbara Cruikshank argues that we can distinguish two different uses of ‘empowerment’: “the left uses empowerment to generate political resistance; the right, to produce rational economic and entrepreneurial actors.” I think the educators that I just surveyed complicate this left/right division since Robinson, Ferriter, and Richardson definitely occupy an identifiable strand of progressivism. Nonetheless, it’s a progressivism divorced from a call for political resistance
Ian O’Byrne also provides a useful breakdown of ’empowerment’ theory.
We just don’t trust human beings. In our self-centered reality, most humans are out to get us, take what we have, or at the very least, let us down. We’ve been sold a pull ourselves up by our bootstrap form of individualism that creates an extremely rich environment for technology to take root. We are so alone, that digital signals seem soothing. Technology and the Internet has become an amazing tool for delivering within our belief system making us more than willing to ignore the damage it does in the world we do not see, and refuse to see. Sure, technology won’t bring clean water to Flint Michigan, or help poor people actually navigate the educational system, but it will allow us to dream big, get rich, and feel good in our isolated bubbles.
Is a private high school education really worth the cost?