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Deep Learning As A Declaration of Love For CA Youth

Artist: Brandie Bowen of San Francisco and Coleman Advocates

By Asher Ki

Transformative  Community Schools Framework” is THE long-term strategy for whole school and systems transformation. Community schools are an authentic approach designed directly by impacted students, along with their families, community partners and educators, centered on a framework inclusive of partnership, equitable decision making, and learning as a tool for transformation. A strategy for shifting the scope from criminalization and punishment to the prioritization of principles rooted in care, support, inclusion, belonging, safety, and joy. Black Indigenous people of color and their families are tired of doing the same old thing, standing idly by while our students are harmed and impacted by outdated formalities, traditional approaches to teaching and learning, and the cultivation of unsafe practices and measures enacted from district to school to classroom to community. 

Our view on education needs to shift if we want to have a fighting chance at adequately addressing the root problem and radically dreaming and reimagining a new realm of learning and endless possibilities. What’s important to note is that Transformative Racially Just Relationship-Centered Community schools are a collaborative process through and through. With an emphasis on valuing the expertise of students and families and adopting a culture/climate where learning opportunities are expanded and the need for resources beyond academics such as: mental and physical health supports, social and emotional services, youth and community development, and engagement, are foundational for a shared vision of success. Transformative community schools essentially start with building trusting relationships, are rooted in liberatory anti-racist approaches to teaching and learning, and broaden the horizon of what’s possible in preparation for lifelong learning, career readiness and development, and discovery of agency and life. 

Asher Ki, Capacity Building Manager

Sounds amazing when you read it aloud, right? In California, we hope to move from a place of pillow talk to radical action, which is why this framework won’t just be another thing, it’ll be THE thing that improves conditions of learning and advances racial equity at the highest level. By the end of our journey, these words will not be something we throw around for the sake of it, it’ll be our state’s mantra and declaration of love and care for our youth, families, teachers, and communities. 

This April, I had the opportunity to engage in the “New Pedagogies for Deep Learning”(NPDL) conference, a phenomenal cohort of changemakers, extensive learning, and expanded knowledge rooted in the commitment to cultivate deep learning. In this case, learners are not specific to one group of individuals or institutions, rather it refers to all of us as people sharpening our collective need to embrace learning as THE way of advancing racial justice and transforming the education system.  Moreover, deep learning aims to address global challenges appropriately by focusing on six competencies. These are Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity, which made an apparent debut throughout the totality of the conference. 

I heard from individuals in places like New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, and Canada about how they established systems of deep learning in order to center the whole child. Among the amazing testimonials was one common lesson: The most notable thing educators can do is perpetuate deep learning as the norm rather than the exception. Applying a standard for all students where excellence is expected; nevermind their race, geographic location or otherwise. This work is about one’s commitment and willingness to meet students where they are while preparing them for the inheritance of lifelong agency and the abundance of possibilities. Deep learning has proven that experience is the best teacher. Cultivating top tier pathways and conditions of nurtured resilience, constructive optimism and learning in the ring. Infused with transformative community schools’s powerful framework, is a recipe for success. 

So how can we do this work? Rewriting systems for students and changing the way we change. What kind of people do we want to be? How are we actively improving ourselves for the sake of liberation? In the words of Dr Shawn Ginwright, “It’s not so much about the curriculum but more about who we need to be to support and impact students/people. It’s about transforming ourselves.” 

Let our national anthem be told through how we honor generations of youth. 

Join me and CFJ in learning more about what the work looks like on the ground Friday, June 16th, we’d love to have you at our Community Schools EMPOWER Summit at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Here’s the link to register: 

State Transformational Assistance Center (S-TAC) Community Schools EMPOWER Summit 

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