The July Meetup took the form of a “virtual healing 101” classroom, as our community from across the globe gathered on Zoom to discuss the education system and share school experiences. TMS hosts of the evening were Mike Avila and Ariel Bastida. They warmed up the class by prompting a journaling exercise that asked the community to write about memorable K-12 experiences, favorite topics (both taught and wish they had been taught), and influential teachers.
Mike Avila began the meetup with a reminder of what compulsory education is. He then explained its impact on our society by saying, “since the creation of compulsory education, there have been struggles over what schools should be teaching, who can attend the schools, and who makes the decisions for schools all over the globe.” Mike pointed out how marginalized peoples have been cut short of quality education by the colonial narratives taught in history classes. He spoke of the overbearing patriarchy that dominates our school halls, where bullying is shrugged off as “kids just being kids.” He also highlighted that corporal punishment is still legal in 19 American states.
“But with the burden of navigating all of those issues in education,” Mike continued, “we’ve still witnessed things like teachers’ unions fighting for their students—for more than just working conditions,” sharing a silver lining to a system that feels immensely irreparable.
Before going into our breakout session, Ariel shared an excerpt from the documentary film Class Dismissed. To preempt our breakout and group discussions, the clip broke down the inception of compulsory education during the 19th century: to create factory workers during the boom of the industrial revolution. This method has become increasingly antiquated.
As we broke out into group discussion, one community member shared the importance of nurturing the discovery of our strengths, “There’s not a lot of imagination and partnership with students to really customize and develop,” she added, “We should be trying to figure out: what are you good at? What are your limitations? Maybe not just for labor but how to access your world,” leading to the discussion on fostering creativity.
As a group, we imagined the opportunity for kids to choose their life paths after learning about their strengths. Another community member shared, “I think the individual should have a say in their education, and that’s where people can pick out their strengths, talents, and gifts that their ancestors gave them.”
The importance of integrating Critical Race Theory into our school systems came in our chat and group discussions—not just to be taught at law schools. Before we can teach history, the accuracy of historical events must be accounted for, and we must draw the root causes of our staggering class differences. Only from there can a promising future unfold for our children. We tied up the evening with a poignant yet powerful Rage Against the Machine song, “Take the Power Back” revealing how Eurocentricity has been disguised as patriotism in our schools’ history classes.
After our Whiteboard session, our community agreed that the purpose of education shouldn’t focus only on entering the workforce but on students finding their strengths, passions, and overall purpose to make the world a better place.
“Learning is ongoing, be yourself, be YOUnique.”
“When did we have the power in the first place?”
“I really wish emotional intelligence was something that was more commonly taught in schools.”
“Money determines the quality of education students receive.”
“Join your library’s board…libraries are an important place for learning and exploration for all ages.”
“We need to break the cycle of abuse disguised as discipline.”
“We have to remember that an educator or teacher is still human. They still have their trauma; they come with and their biases.”
“I think we teach students not to treat teachers as human. Then those children become parents.”
Check out our Meetup Themed Playlist made by your host, Mike!
A timeline of public education in the US
Excerpt watched from the film Class Dismissed:
Abolitionists Teaching Network
Vox video about the problem with the SAT
Social Emotional Learning
Marc Brackett Yale University
“School segregation is now more severe than in the late 1960s,” says a 2020 UCLA report
The Arizona Adverse Childhood Experiences Consortium
Paper Tigers: ACES Adverse Childhood Experiences
Dr. Chris Emdin – Leader in Education Project Nia
Book, Movies, & Podcast Recommendations:
Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope directed by James Redford & Karen Pritzker
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Everywhere All the Time: A New Deschooling Reader by Matt Hern
The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper
Nice White Parents podcast
The Deepest Well by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
City Kids City Schools edited by: William Ayers Gloria Ladson-Billings Gregory Michie Pedro A. Noguera
Lessons in Liberation: An Abolitionist Toolkit for Educators
Critical Race Theory Richard Delgado