Read: Educating for Insurgency by Jay Gillen from AK Press—another book not to be missed.
It’s brilliantly conceived and beautifully written—easily the most perceptive and useful book on education for freedom I’ve read in years.
Jay Gillen offers insights and revelations on every page, but it’s the heart of his argument that warrants closest attention: in the long and sorry history of race and class and caste in America, we have resolved nothing and progressed little. He uncovers the stench of the slave market in every corner of modern schools for the descendants of formerly enslaved people, and he plots an insurgency and a powerful pathway out of bondage.
To be a slave is to be measured and assessed, inspected and counted, evaluated and regulated, admonished and corrected, indoctrinated and reformed, threatened and prodded and punished. It’s to have one’s agency ignored or constrained or systematically crushed. To be free is to overthrow that condition through self-activity, an insurgency that involves seizing and practicing one’s own agency, stepping into history not as an object—a fraction of a human, or 3/5 of a person—not as a label or a collection of deficits or someone else’s imposed statistical profile, but as a fully realized and three-dimensional human being.
Gillen illuminates the fundamental goal of education—enlightenment and liberation—in masterful detail. To deny people an authentic education is to distort meaning and destroy freedom; to alienate people from their own judgments is to turn them into objects; to prevent people from naming their situations and entanglements and predicaments is a form of cruelty and violence.
This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand on the deepest level the educational catastrophe we are experiencing, and the corridors toward a hopeful and more human future for students and families and teachers—and, indeed, for all of us.
Educating for Insurgency is finally an offering of wisdom and an act of love.