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We Want to Do More Than Survive
Cover of We Want to Do More Than Survive
We Want to Do More Than Survive
Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom
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Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award
Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.
Drawing on her life's work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.
To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom—not merely reform—teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist. Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.
Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award
Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.
Drawing on her life's work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.
To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom—not merely reform—teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist. Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.
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About the Author-
  • Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist educational, equitable classroom. A sought-after public speaker on a range of topics including Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement, and issues of diversity, Love has also provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, The Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2018
    An educator and activist issues an urgent call for a pedagogy meant "to eradicate injustice in and outside of schools."Love (Educational Theory and Practice/Univ. of Georgia) opens with the premise that education "is an industry that is driven and financially backed by the realities that dark children and their families just survive." According to the author, well-meaning volunteers for Teach for America, who spend two years in the inner city, are nothing more than "educational parasites [who] need dark children to be underserved and failing, which supports their feel-good, quick-fix, gimmicky narrative"; slogans and rubrics such as "best practices," "grit," and "No Excuses" are instruments of white supremacy; teachers who claim to "love all children" are often "deeply entrenched in racism, transphobia, classism, rigid ideas of gender, and Islamophobia"; and people who claim that they do not see color, "denying their students' racial experiences, cultural heritage, and ways of resistance," are ipso facto racist. And those are the allies; as for the enemies, well, the language is no less unsparing. Although the argument is sometimes overly strident, Love depicts incontestable realities: Public schools, particularly in poor areas and with students of color, seem designed to fail; strategies such as teaching to the test and the Common Core do little to actually teach anyone anything; and the central lesson of what passes for civic education, as the author writes, is "comply, comply, comply." Against this she proposes a pedagogy of abolitionism--i.e., one that, among other things, fights for social justice, challenges systematic oppression, battles supremacist assumptions, and accounts for the experiences of the marginalized: "Our schools and our teaching practices...need to be torn down and replaced with our freedom dreams rooted in participatory democracy and intersectional justice."A useful rejoinder, half a century on, to Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed; controversial but deserving of a broad audience among teachers and educational policymakers.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2019

    Following the wave of teachers' strikes in 2018, there has been renewed public appetite for critical discussions of schooling. This is a refreshing development, argues Love (Coll. of Education, Univ. of Georgia), since the discourse around U.S. education reform is often twisted to serve the needs of what the author calls the "educational survival complex"--ultrawealthy philanthropists and their corporate backers who peddle quick-fix solutions such as high-stakes testing or charter schools. Rather than tinkering around the edges of the system in order to ensure the mere survival of children from marginalized communities, Love shows instead how schools can encourage these students to thrive. Unless teachers commit to interrogating and finally shedding their white privilege, she argues, public education will continue to devalue black students and consign them to lives of second-class citizenship. Love could have benefited from firmer editorial control--single sentences routinely stretch on for a hundred words or more. Moreover, she never adequately demonstrates how a critical mass of teachers, already underpaid and overwhelmed, could undertake the community organizing necessary for reform. Still, this text is helpful for gaining a better grasp of oppression and what teachers can do about it. VERDICT Recommended for academic libraries serving preservice teachers.--Seth Kershner, Northwestern Connecticut Community Coll. Lib., Winsted

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews "A useful rejoinder, half a century on, to Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed; deserving of a broad audience among teachers and educational policymakers."
  • Library Journal "This text is helpful for gaining a better grasp of oppression and what teachers can do about it."
  • Rethinking Schools "Love's new book is uncategorizable in the best way possible. It is memoir, history, indictment, textbook, guide, and manifesto . . . Educators who aspire to activism will find inspiration in the pages of this book."
  • David Stovall, professor of African American studies and criminology, law, and justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, and coauthor of Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools "Through unflinching and daring inquiry, Dr. Bettina Love has stepped out on faith to articulate our pain, suffering, and eternal search for joy. Her words resurrect the abolitionist credo of 'education' over 'school.' Because they are two different things, the question remains: can school be the place where education happens or do we need to radically rethink what we're doing? Dr. Love's work suggests that if we do not choose the latter, we are complicit in our own demise."
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    Beacon Press
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We Want to Do More Than Survive
We Want to Do More Than Survive
Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom
Bettina L. Love
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