SAIC Art Education

Critical. Meaningful. Transformative.

DeShaunte Walker
Transformative Education Chapters 5, 7 & 8
Ethical & Pedagogical Studies
Lavie Raven

“I say, I say unto thee… Every Revolution begins with a Movement, every Movement begins with a Vision and every Vision begins with a Visionary who dreams… My dream is to shine a light deep into the depths of Man, exposing a universal oneness that exists within Us All, that inalienable force that causes everything to be. You see, in order to grow, we must destroy and rebuild, rebuild upon a new foundation, a foundation of unity…” – N.O.VATA (Innovator)

The above quote is actually an intro to a song. It is a song created by an artist in time past. It has relevance in the dark and tumultuous present and speaks to hopes of an illuminated and peaceful future. The readings I was assigned to lead this week are quite inspiring to say the least. Several parts therein serve as a reaffirmation of thoughts and inclinations I have experienced first hand. I find myself currently in a place of deep “contemplation” as I attempt to relay the wisdom from within.

The first author in the series of articles on transformative education was Brian Milani. In from opposition to alternatives: post industrial potentials, Brian spoke eloquently about the capitalistic, hegemonic society in which we live and its denial to honestly address the issues surrounding our current state of affairs as humans that have separated ourselves from nature and have adopted a materialistic, accumulating undertaking. He suggests that in order to transform our current reality we must “dematerialize.” He elaborates, stating “If we were able to free people and firms from the compulsion to get money or accumulate capital, we could easily target real human and environmental needs and dematerialize the economy.” This will be one hell of a task as everything around us including, or should I say especially music evokes us to “get money” at all cost. Furthermore he emphasizes that the core responsibilities of transformative education are to “redefine wealth and create specific alternatives in every sector of economy.” I cannot recollect his expounding on these ideals in detail so I pose this question to my colleagues; in what ways can we redefine wealth and create specific alternatives in the economy?

David Selby spoke to the idea of a radical interconnectedness and its implications for global and environmental education. He defined radical as a way of “going to the root of things.” I believe this call for radicalism is warranted as we have ventured so far away from who and what we really are. We must fight to get our spirits and our minds back from the vice grips of external forces causing us to forget about Nature who has been called our Mother (Earth). We must find our way back to the root of things. He cautions us against computers stating, “They have their place but are among the latest technological phenomena in the process of disconnecting humans from nature.” All one must do to realize the gravity of this statement is stand outside and watch as passersby walk into poles and even each other while texting or surfing the net, all the while, failing to hear the birds serenade us with songs, plants fragrant the air and a prism of colors arch across a sun filled sky. The last of five guides for global and environmental educators was to “rethink how we try to bring about educational change” also, that the “change has to be holistic to be effective.”

Finally, John (Jack) P. Miller came with learning from a spiritual perspective. Some will be quick to protest and resist such an ideal but that is because they have been programmed to equate spirituality with religion. Well, this is not that. Religious denominations and titles are not the subject here so Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, and all religions will be accepted as spiritual entities in the space and the meditative keys of attention, mindfulness, contemplation, compassion and joy to name a few will be basis of this learning experience. These ideals seem so simplistic yet; their implications are quite profound. Many times we make things far more complex than they need to be. I can visualize combining these elements with some of those previously outlined to formulate an environment for learning that will be most effective in “life” outside of the classroom. In light of recent developments in our current space in time concerning the acquittal of an officer who killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, I ask two final questions. In what ways can you see how our current (mis)educational system may have contributed to this tragedy? Do you think elements of a transformative education might have prevented such an injustice?

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Comment by Lissette Martinez on November 25, 2014 at 4:56pm

Firstly, what a profound and inspirational quote to start off the conversation. Shawn, it's interesting you bring up the Michael Brown case. Milani begins with discussing protests, and the cultural changes that have led up to revolutions for better qualities of life rather than focusing on "labor and "socialist movements" (p 49). This makes me think of the case, and how these racial tensions still permeate within our "progressive" society well after the Civil Rights Movement.  When you think about the 1% of Americans earning above $600,000, it makes you rethink who the "minority" really are...but I digress. Milani asserts that the only way to change society is to create "whole human beings...whereby their energies can help regenerate their communities" specifically through a green community education (p. 57).  I thought it was interesting that Milani took this approach, because I hadn't thought about it before. However, I wonder if that's possible in large scale application.

Selby takes the same theory, however, through a different vision. He views these challenges resulting from a disconnection between nature and humanity. Shawn argues that changes have to be holistic in order to succeed, paralleling Milani and Miller's theory. Jack Miller, in contrast though, shares a more methodological approach. He believes learning must first come from an awareness of your environment and responding through the "physical, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual" (p. 97). To use Shawn's words, I found Miller's statement in his conclusion to be "very profound". He says, "In a sense we can view ourselves as vessels attempting to assist others in awakening: yet we can never ultimately know the energies that are both within and surrounding us and what effect these energies will have on others" (p.101). What I feel he's trying to say, is that in order to work in a holistic approach with your students or your public, you must first have a purposeful self-awareness and a humility that transcends into your interactions. 

I feel these readings offer new approaches to education. Selby's theory especially, I feel can be applied in situations outside the classroom. I agree with Shawn that now more than ever, educators of all kind should seek out these approaches. However, because our school system is so quantitative, it would be hard for the school to gauge the level of compassion a student has reached. Could there be a way to implement these ideas in such a way that the system can't derail the mission? Why not teach holistic economics? I feel like teachers are already so overwhelmed, underpaid, and beat down, that unfortunately some lose that drive that made them be teachers in the first place. Is there a way to create teacher programs in order to give them the resources needed for a holistic education?

Comment by Yingyue Yu on November 25, 2014 at 10:10am

These three readings are talking about transformative education, and each of the reading explained a transform in a particular perspective, which aim at one specific change of the current world.


The first reading wrote by Brian Milani, was talking about an alternative of education for postindustrial era. David Selby talked about the interconnectedness between global and environmental education. And in the last reading, Miller explained education from another aspect of, which is the spiritual education. And for me, all those three passages remind me the real transform happening in my country, the transforming from economy to ideology. And these transitions draw me one question, that is, how should educators in China manage their position to well adapt the current China so that education can be more effective and more helpful to the next generation?


In general, I do agree with those reading, as our society is facing a lot of transform from time to time, it is not a surprise that we need to change our education from its system, from the way we teach and from the way we think of teaching. Therefore, pedagogy can always keep up with this society, not as a follower, on the contrary, as a reminder, to remind us humanity, to supplement the spirit or ability we are lack of in this current world. Because I do believe, people have their own limited or shortage inherit from their own time, and that is why, we need to keep changing our education and to use education as a rich resources to nourish our mind, our behavior, and our believing system, etc.


At the same time, I am wondering that since people has their limitation from their own time, as we all know that it is not a huge challenge to evaluate the things have already happened, but it is normally very difficult for people to realize the limitation and to make a proper judgment within their own time, not to mention the difficulty to put into action based on those realization and judgment. Therefore, I feel it is such a big responsibility for educators to make any change and to use education to reform the society. Like a coin has two sides, education can be a tool for those in power to manipulate their people, or it can also be a method to sharp our mind. So my concern is how could we redefine our education system and put it into action in a way full of wisdom from time to time?

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