What if we were free?

reflecting as a peer educator hosting Zoom meetings for over a dozen students throughout the week
Credit: @WokeTeachers IG

I have so much joy seeing my peers learn from each other in their supplemental instructional sessions for data structures and algorithms. I am dedicating this post to why creating a safe, then productive learning environment equates to being free. If you are an educator, recognize the answer has always been in the room. Here is a draft of what I presented to my peers in three 1-minute chunks, with breakout room activities asking for what they understood out of my objective as their peer educator, on earning trust and building community. 

If I do not help you feel more connected with your classmates so that you have at least 1 peer you can reach out to throughout the week, I should be fired. My goal is to ignite the love of communal learning because that’s what’s gonna change your life and our communities, that’s the algorithm I’m passionate about. Teaching without passion is just talking, learning without passion is just doing, so I wanna help y’all, me included, create the conditions to be passionate. People ask me, Henry, why are you so intense about education? Well, it’s because I’m passionate about the possibilities. I recognize the privilege of freedom. I realize the urgency of justice & citizenship. I’m passionate about y’all. I go to sleep at night thinking about what it’d be like for a CS class to be interactive for 60 minutes out of 70. Look at how far we’ve been able to come with a whole system designed for us to be disengaged and misunderstood. A whole system that denies you of your own form of expression and cultural intellectual capital. Could you imagine all the possibilities that could be, if y’all were genuinely, free?

Play the what-if game: What if we broke into small groups and did the coding activities together in collaborative teams for the majority of synchronous shared class time. 

What if the advanced learners could be incentivized to teach their peers the content, with an agreement that their peers deliberately take notes, give credit where credit is due, and share them with their friends, for the betterment of the class.

What if educators, myself and y’all included – because no one can ‘teach’ you computer science, this has to be learned – understood their connection to their students was more about authenticity than what they know? No one (really) cares about how much you know, what we’ve all been waiting to feel, is how much you care. 

I would rather any day of the week have a teacher who doesn’t understand the content, but has a passion and love for their students, to teach you geniuses by virtue of your existence and grit, how to co-learn. Then we extract the conceit & ego around who gets what content. This is: Shared Responsibility for the acquisition of knowledge. This, is what transforms teaching and learning & transforms the future of learning. What’s crazy is y’all know this already. This has happened to you in your life in some way shape or form when you’re learning something. 

Let’s see how to design learning experiences and environments, so that the passion and curiosity becomes awakened. Sometimes when I’m in a role of instruction, I act like I have no clue what to do. “Henry what do we do with this data structure or algorithm?”, bromeo (brother & romeo), fammm, I don’t know – we gonna have to figure this one out together. I mess up on purpose, I struggle with a purpose (credit: Jeff’s intellectual brilliance), and before long I start modeling for them what it looks like to not give up.

When I figure out how to edit and share the magic that is in this type of learning environment, I will update this post with what that looks like in practice. 

Conversations around intelligence quotient or IQ lends itself to objectivism which lends itself to an agonist way of looking at the world. Folks who claim to be agonistic align with the concept of agnosia: an inability to see what’s already there, an inability to interpret sensations and hence recognize things. This is why I know the answer has always been in the room. 

Healing the damage that’s been caused in spaces not designed for us. Divorcing our authentic self from the pursuit of knowledge. That traditional educational structure and mode of instruction has robbed us of our cultural intellectual capital. With our belief and spirit compromised, we’re inevitability broken. Let’s help each other create the spaces, where we celebrate the answer that’s in the room, and be free. 

Shout out to all educators, who consistently read the room, reflect on who,why,what,how,when their students are learning, who flipped their classrooms, and continuously innovate in their methods of instruction. Take care of yourself, take care of others. See you next week.

4 thoughts on “What if we were free?

  1. I’m not going to lie, I read this while having a rap beat playing in the background, and found myself rapping this at times. I really enjoyed this post, it was really poetic and educational.

    “Could you imagine all the possibilities that could be, if y’all were genuinely, free?” This idea and the way it was presented sounds like it was straight out of a J. Cole song.

    “My goal is to ignite the love of communal learning because that’s what’s gonna change your life and our communities, that’s the algorithm I’m passionate about. Teaching without passion is just talking, learning without passion is just doing, so I wanna help y’all, me included, create the conditions to be passionate.” This was some more straight fire!!

    I love the idea that the learning environment is safe then productive. To be honest I don’t think it can be productive without being safe, and if it was just productive, the only thing its productive at is weeding out students and maintaining the current hierarchy(giving me unrestrained capitalism vibes as I write this). Your enthusiasm about empowering not just students but people really radiates through this post! (:

    Like

  2. “Teaching without passion is just talking, learning without passion is just doing”
    “and before long I start modeling for them what it looks like to not give up…” that one made me want to tear up

    Like

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