Pivot towards the light: Challenge(s) of making justice integral
“Rather than being consumed by the darkness, I want to pivot towards the light. I want to frame our continued and deepening work as a project of inspired creativity, a deep gesture of nuanced counterpoint.” Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot (AERA 2017 Distinguished lecture).
In this year’s TeachingWorks seminar series we continue to take on, with radical seriousness and urgency, the core problem of educational justice. Taking inspiration from Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, we ask:
• What are pressing problems and challenges of making justice integral?
• How can we name and operationalize these problems?
• And, what might be ways we can and should take action on these challenges so that we might make meaningful headway?
Addressing these questions will necessitate a great audacity, a deep humility, and a tireless dedication. It will also take sustained impatience and urgency.
We are resolute in keeping our eyes on the societal patterns that reflect centuries of oppression, structural injustices, and everyday racism and doing more than just noticing these, but striving to counter and disrupt them in the common spaces of our work and our lives. We strive to not be deterred by forces that prevent us from the necessary work to restructure and re-envision how we work with children and teachers in our schools and how we prepare and support our teacher candidates so that they can work skillfully and caringly with their students to help them thrive.
We have invited of a series of humble, highly skilled, powerful speakers to share with us what is it that keeps them up at night in the unending fight against racism and oppression. What do they think we must we do now and in each and every day following, to pivot towards the light? How can we act in urgency, in solidarity, marshaling our greatest creativity and imaginations?
Additional information about the remaining seminar lectures is forthcoming.
- Emily Hargoves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard University
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University, where she has been on the faculty since 1972.
Educator, researcher, author, and public intellectual, Lawrence-Lightfoot has written ten books: Worlds Apart: Relationships Between Families and Schools (1978), Beyond Bias: Perspectives on Classrooms (1979) (with Jean Carew), and The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture (1983), which received the 1984 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association. Her book, Balm In Gilead: Journey of A Healer (1988), which won the 1988 Christopher Award, given for "literary merit and humanitarian achievement," was followed by I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation (1994), and The Art and Science of Portraiture (1997) (with Jessica Hoffmann Davis), which documents her pioneering approach to social science methodology; one that bridges the realms of aesthetics and empiricism. In Respect: An Exploration (1999), Lawrence-Lightfoot reaches deep into human experience to find the essence of this powerful quality. The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other (2003), captures the crucial exchange between parents and teachers, a dialogue that is both mirror and metaphor for the cultural forces that shape the socialization of our children, and The Third Chapter: Risk, Passion, and Adventure in the Twenty-Five Years After 50 (2009) explores new learning during one of the most transformative and generative times in our lives. In her latest book, Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free (2012), she trains her lens on the myriad exits—ordinary and extraordinary, painful and liberating—that we make in our life journeys.
- Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, University of Pittsburgh
Valerie Kinloch is the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Her scholarship examines the literacies of youth and adults inside and outside schools, particularly in urban environments. Author of publications on race, place, literacy, and equity, her books include: Still Seeking an Attitude: Critical Reflections on the Work of June Jordan (2004), June Jordan: Her Life and Letters (2006), Harlem On Our Minds: Place, Race, and the Literacies of Urban Youth (2010), Urban Literacies: Critical Perspectives on Language, Learning, and Community (2011), Crossing Boundaries: Teaching and Learning with Urban Youth (2012), and Service-Learning in Literacy Education: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning (2015). In 2012, her book, Harlem On Our Minds, received the Outstanding Book of the Year Award from the American Educational Research Association, and in 2014, her book titled, Crossing Boundaries: Teaching and Learning with Urban Youth, was a staff pick for professional development by the Teaching Tolerance Education Magazine. Additionally, Valerie is the recipient of the 2015 Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education from the National Council of Teachers of English, and the 2010 Scholars of Color Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association. She has received grants from the Spencer Foundation, National Council of Teachers of English, Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Battelle Endowment for Technology. With colleagues, she participated in a Fulbright-Hayes project to Sierra Leone, West Africa to examine connections among language, culture, and history in Sierra Leone and the U.S. Gullah Sea Islands. Currently, she is completing book projects and community initiatives on literacy, justice, race, and engagement.