No One Wants to Feel Trapped!

Is it Prison?

“School is just a six-interruption in my day.”  At about 12 years old, over a dozen years ago, that’s how my ‘tween son described school to his grandpa.My dad laughed and laughed.  We all did.  Understandably, there’s so much angst at that age.  However, beneath the angst and the laughter, EdLeaders need to orient our schools toward what bell hooks calls,

“Education as the practice of freedom.”

“I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer…education as the practice of freedom…. education that connects the will to know with the will to become. Learning is a place where paradise can be created.”  ~bell hooks

Obviously, my son wasn’t experiencing freedom or ‘paradise.’  Let’s free our students from the prison of school and create something fresh.  How can we design our school and classroom community for powerful learning?


Hooks’ predecessor was Paulo Freire.  He explained how educators need to engage in transformative praxis with,

“reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it” 

Truly, how can we transform our work to create that engaging and powerful learning?  That paradise?What are transformative praxis and liberatory pedagogies?  How might we decolonize our work?


Walk With Learners

As school leaders, how can we inspire our teachers to ‘walk with’ learners and liberate them?Here are words that come to mind when I think of liberatory pedagogies:

  • Curious
  • Personalized
  • Hands-on
  • Project-based
  • Making
  • Creative
  • Authentic
  • Student ownership
  • Student-directed
  • Inquiry

What words describe bringing freedom to students for you?Education as the practice of freedom fundamentally invites students to own and lead their own learning.Read that again.Indeed, it’s about exchanging the hierarchies, the colonialism, and the patriarchy for equitable learning environments both for teachers and students.



Equity just rolls off my tongue.  But, it’s not easy.  We must step out of performative action and make it transformative.In my context, we emphasize Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous students.  What is the emphasis in your context?What are the next steps in your school leadership?  How will you attend to this essential in 2022-23 school year?Here are my ideas:

  1. Be a curious and active learner of others.
  2. Center voices of those in the margins.
  3. Become students of effective models in education for belonging.
  4. Examine system-level policies for promoting diversity and equity.
  5. Ask your team how to move from awareness to action and co-create a plan.
  6. As you hire for next year, consider how to actively recruit diverse team members.  That’s a tall order in some contexts, but we will continue to engage.

What are your ideas?

Resources to Explore

Here are some resources to consider:

Let me know if I can serve you and your school community in this process.For the sake of the children,Karine PS  Wondering how to set yourself up for this kind of impact in the next school year, check out the next Goal Achievement Masterclass series