Bravo Wisdom Gillchrist Amouzou! Thanks for showing us that true education equity is about teaching students to be transformative resisters–able to see, understand, deal with, respond to, and redress oppression. And to do all that, Wisdom shows us that students must know themselves, their assets, and the strengths of their communities. They must form deep reciprocal relationships with their peers and educators. Relationships rooted in being authentically known not steeped in compliance, assimilation, and judgment of character. Furthermore, students must have educators that are not afraid to let go of overly simplified notions of “excellence” and give students power and voice.
“We assume that access to a college education is enough to uproot systems of oppression; It simply isn’t. It is fundamentally a low expectation of what education can be.”
Wisdom has worked for a high performing Charter Network (see the shirts students are wearing) and has recently created a video that states: “When I see a system that might produce GREAT DATA but fundamentally disempowers my students; when I see a system in which my students will graduate CONFORMISTS instead of TRANSFORMATIVE, it is very much UNDERMINING what we are doing [in terms of educating for EQUITY]. We assume that access to a college education is enough to uproot systems of oppression; IT SIMPLY ISN’T. It is fundamentally a LOW EXPECTATION of what EDUCATION CAN BE.”
Wisdom also explains the lies of compliance: “We tell students that if they can essentially shut up, walk in a straight silent line and sit down in class and listen long enough to see a return on our investment in May (when they take that standardized test), they will achieve their dreams–they will find LIBERATION for their community. And to me it is a HOAX. It doesn’t take into account what it means to be SYSTEMATICALLY OPPRESSED.”
He describes the pain of an education that ignores the oppression that students have faced and will face in college and beyond: “It does a great deal of VIOLENCE to your consciousness to constantly see inequity in your community and never be given the tools to either comprehend that pain or address that pain, to HEAL that pain.”
Wisdom calls for an excellent education that is not rooted in merely test-score equity and access to college. He calls for an excellent education that also develops students with a positive socio-cultural identity and equity literacy (the ability to see, respond to, and redress inequity and oppression). It is not an easy task, but you can watch the process unfold with Wisdom and his students: Education for Liberation VIDEO