Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Deeper Learning for Equity - My Manifesto

In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “[We] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” This recognition of interconnectedness is critical to understanding why we need to achieve equity. The need for community is universal. A sense of belonging, of continuity, of being connected to others and to ideas and values that make our lives meaningful and significant - these are the needs shared by all of us. Becoming a learning community where members are committed to thinking, growing and inquiring and where "learning is for everyone" is an attitude as well as an activity where innovation flourishes. Equity embraces messy collaboration by leveraging complexity and demanding honesty; calling out racism and oppression. Being a leader focused on equity requires that you understand the past without being trapped in it and embracing the present without being constrained. I believe in building inquiring communities where administration and faculty are committed to the spirit of collective inquiry as they reflect on their practice and search for solutions to problems together; they have a bias for smashing oppressive systems. It is not possible to meaningfully improve education without addressing equity and the systems that oppress students.

To address inequity in education and specifically in Deeper Learning, we must begin by changing our mindsets, our behaviors and our actions. We need to see our work through an equity lens, understand the drivers of human thriving and untapped potential in students. We need to build new systems that promote equity and support the interconnectedness of the human family. As a colleague said at an event we hosted, "We don't need to justify having focused conversations about racism in schools. Besides the stunning cruelty of racism, letting it fester serves no one, not even the predominant group. We're in this together. We avoid such conversations in schools because it could stir things up that we're unprepared to handle. We might lose friends or colleagues for a while—or longer." Or we're so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing or appearing racist that we cripple constructive opportunities to talk about race and resolve conflicts. By approaching one another with good faith and caring, we can ease these fears.

The goal in education is to cultivate innate talents and equip every student by developing habits of learning that render them into individuals who have the mindsets to succeed in their personal and professional lives. They are future-ready, empowered citizens who can learn and have the confidence to complete tasks no matter the situation or circumstance; who are able to learn continuously in a world of constant change and innovation. We cannot predict the problems that students will face, but we can provide them with effective learning tools that will help them succeed in their future endeavors.

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