I had a blog post all set to go for this morning. It was about building a celebratory culture in your school. But right now, I just don’t feel like talking about celebration. You probably don’t either.
This is a stream of consciousness blog post. It may be riddled with spelling errors and incomplete thoughts. Right now I just don’t have the strength or attention span to make it perfect, but I do feel like I have important things to say.
Things aren’t okay in America right now. Our president is a white supremacist with an increasingly rabid and aggressive base of supporters. In 2017, Nazis are marching in our streets and I’m hearing people I know say that those who showed up to resist the Nazis are “just as bad” and I can’t…
People who claim to care about children, peace, and the well-being of America are also staying “neutral” on the issue. Let me be clear: there is NO neutral here. “I’m staying neutral” is the same as “I am pro-racism.” No middle ground when it comes to Nazis.
We hold great power as educators. Our schools shape the thinking of generations of people. Dr. Montessori saw education as a tool for keeping us out of war, now is the time to open the toolbox and get to work.
If you are a white school leader or teacher, you have the most work to do of all. Now is the time to suspend all of your assumptions about race, equity, and American culture. Get humble and start learning. Assume everything you’ve been taught about race by other white people is questionable.
The school year is starting and we are at social justice DEFCON 5, people.
Frankly, I think we have failed up to this point. Let’s be honest, most Montessori educators are white people. Us white people mostly grew up learning that it was rude to talk about race. “I don’t see color” and other such nonsense phrases are the stuff we heard growing up.
Now we need to do better. Talking about race, questioning the status-quo, assuming we don’t know everything we need to know…these are the things we need to be doing NOW.
Have your teachers researching “classic” books that many people of color say have racist themes. Replace them with new classics written by authors of color. Reconsider your approach to cultural studies, many Montessori schools have and do some pretty problematic stuff trying to teach about the cultures of the world.
Check out Diamond Montessori for amazing language cards and book recommendations focused on inclusive representation. (This isn’t an affiliate link, her stuff is just really good!)
Check out the Montessori for Social Justice community. Read their statement of Charlottesville. Join the facebook group and engage in meaty, challenging discussions about the intersection of social justice and Montessori. Attend the conference and quietly learn.
Reconsider every single HR policy and job description you have through the lens of white privilege. Actually…reconsider EVERYTHING. Us peaceful educators have really screwed up by staying neutral and quiet. To continue to do so would be irresponsible.
We have a serious racism problem in America that is being actively fueled by our president. Our education system has enforced structural racism since it was established and us “alternative” types haven’t done enough to dismantle it. It may feel like racism isn’t possible in a Montessori school, but it most certainly is!
As educators, we are uniquely empowered to turn the tide. White people need to shoulder the majority of the burden to make it happen. I’m not even totally sure what all the right steps are. I am 100% sure that just continuing to do exactly what we have been doing will be disastrous for our country.
I’ve started a side project that I thought was just personal, but this just now I decided that maybe I can share it with you too. It is called #shouldertheburden
The idea is for white people to take it upon themselves to get educated about issues of structural racism and educate other white people. I’ve made up a series of race education memes for white people that I will be sharing on my Twitter timeline for the next few months.
You are encouraged to follow along and share them with your community. We can all take small steps to get white people educated about race in America, this is a small step in the right direction.
As a white person, I know I don’t have all the answers. I’m learning all the time. But while I don’t know everything, I know a lot and I’m going to use this platform I have to speak. Sometimes, what is right is crystal clear.
Note: Here’s the deal, I am able to work on social justice issues in education because I am self-employed and get to choose how I spend my days. I can do this because good Montessori school leaders like you invest in getting support from me.
When you make a small investment in the Resources Community or a slightly bigger investment in One on One Coaching, you keep this Montessori Leadership community going. Please understand that, no matter what I’m discussing on the blog, I have to keep the lights on. Think about making an investment in yourself that is also an investment in this community.
I humbly thank you.
PS – If you are offended by anything I said in this blog post, I’m not even a little bit sorry.
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