Great leaders are constantly reflecting on their practice and assessing progress towards social justice. We place so much pressure on ourselves to reach outcomes, to fight injustice, and to challenge the status quo. This is the work of a critical pedagogue. We want to make sure that we are not another cog in the wheel of social reproduction.
Instead, you are trying to create the conditions for equity, and sometimes you must, “put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” These are wise words by the Free Speech Movement activist Mario Savio.
And that is damn hard work.
And leaders have a large sphere of influence, and sometimes can rebuild and redesign education. Leaders can reform from within, bring that spirit of the civil rights movement from the streets into the legislature. But we must continue to question if we are doing the right thing.
There are many questions that keep culturally responsive leaders up at night. Here are a few that keep me tossing and turning.
- Am I pushing the envelope of have I been co-opted by the system? Am I still hungry for change?
- Do I have an equity or identity blind spot? Are my politics on gender stronger than my politics on sexuality?
- Am I helping people to reflect on their practice, and look at tangible student outcomes.
- Ate my policies humanizing or dehumanizing?
- Are adults or students are the core of decisions? Design for your end user, and which students?
- Am I modeling culturally responsive pedagogy in the spaces I facilitate?
- Are people following me or am I just waking in a direction? Does my team know where I’m going, and why we are going there?
- Am I institutionalized my vision, could the work continue without me?
- Does my group understand my purpose and my commitment to justice?
- Is change happening fast enough and what small step can I take tomorrow.
Be forgiving of yourself but commit to being bold. We never arrive at the destination or equity or justice. It’s the pursuit that moves us and moves an organization. When we think we are done, we have become complacent and co-opted. At any time, you could be taken over by an agent in the Matrix. Neo and the resistance, are always moving. Always reflecting. Always changing. A little bit lost sleep is worth it for our children.
What keeps you up at night?