Amy and Jon talk with educational innovators about creating ethical learning environments, helping students overcome the effects of trauma, and empowering young people to make change. Tune in weekly.
Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part Two)
We continue our conversation with Dr. Edwin Mayorga of Swarthmore College. We discuss the corporatization of schools that reduces students to their test scores. Dr. Mayorga encourages educators to center joy and healing. Schools should be liberatory rather than places that are too often focused on punishment and surveillance. Schools, as "localized nodes of political power,” should adopt democratic processes that cultivate voice, participation, and collaboration. As an organizer, he encourages coalitions of people resisting different aspects of racial capitalism, including those fighting destruction of the planet and exploitation of other species.
Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part One)
We speak with Swarthmore's Dr. Edwin Mayorga, who explains how abolitionist classrooms and schools create "freedom as a place" in contrast to racial capitalism. Teachers are the lead inquirers and try to "move at the speed of trust," helping to create classrooms full of joy. Edwin describes Philadelphia's Kensington Health Sciences Academy as a school where teaching and learning are based on establishing relationships of mutual respect.
BIPOC and undocumented: A trauma-filled intersection
Dr. Christiana Best, who spent thirty years in the New York City child welfare system before becoming a full-time academic, discusses her personal experience of being left behind in Granada while her mother settled in the US. Dr. Best, now an assistant professor of social work at St. Joseph’s, delves into the difficulties of providing holistic support to immigrant children and families, who are (justifiably) hesitant to trust government agencies.
The impact of deportation policies on Latinx students’ mental health
Dr. Randy Capps, Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute, surveyed Latinx high school students to see how fear of deportation – of their parents, relatives, friends, or themselves – impacts their mental health. The students, roughly half foreign-born and half US-born, suffered anxiety, depression, and PTSD at significantly higher rates than other students their age. Strong bonds immigrant students formed with one another were a source of mutual support. Students who engaged in public policy activism showed improved mental health.
Empowering school counselors to support struggling students
Dr. Mandy Savitz-Romer of Harvard Graduate School of Education sees counselors as schools' academic conscience, the hub for providing holistic support to students. To be effective, they need a seat at the leadership table. Respondents in Savitz-Romer's 1000-counselor survey described obstacles and successes in serving students during the pandemic.
Holistic history: The African diaspora
Dr. Kim Butler, who leads Rutgers's Africana Studies program, says that while we usually teach history and social studies in discreet, testable units, events are complex and interconnected. Slavery throughout the Americas was central to the development of capitalism. Dr. Butler describes how working class students often can't choose a liberal arts education because they have to focus on getting jobs.
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I don’t usually like listening to interview heavy podcasts, but Amy and Jon seem to ask the right questions and invite such interesting guests, that basically each episode contain very compelling stories and information without much back and forth.