Joy Sullivan is a Columbus-based educator and poet. Currently, she serves as a Museum Education Fellow for the Wexner Center for the Arts. With a masters in Poetry from Miami University and a teaching license from Ohio Dominican University, her academic work reflects an interest in gender studies, social justice, and community development. She is passionate about her neighborhood of Franklinton, equality in education and facilitating local writing workshops in the community. Joy worked with Dr. Melissa Crum, an artist, author, researcher, and founder of Mosaic Education Network, LLC, and Wex educators Dionne Custer Edwards and Tracie McCambridge, on our recent event, "Ready. Set. Shift: An Interactive Workshop & Participatory Dialogue on Education". She shares the experience here.
On November 5th, educators, writers and stakeholders gathered for a conversation surrounding educational and learning environments at the breakout session, Ready Set Shift. Inspired by the exhibit Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, and under the leadership of Melissa Crum, participants created break-out dialogue sessions. Each group dialogued about the remaining obstacles and challenges inherent in the educational system and examined multiple tiers related to implementing solutions for improvement and change.
First, Melissa sparked dialogue at the base level. She approached the foundation of the issue by posing the question, “What is the purpose of education?” Answers waxed from philosophical to pragmatic, from weighty to blunt. Responses included:
- Education provides a passionate, critical lens for how to be in the world.
- Education is the liberation of the self through collaborative growth and exchange.
- Education is the enlightenment of perspective in order to create positive progress in the world.
Next, the discussion centered around direct obstacles blocking education’s goals and purposes. Melissa asked each group to consider the the hindrances inherent in the educational infrastructure affecting both students and teachers. The top three responses that emerged were:
- Lack of resources/necessities for quality classroom accessibility.
- Corruption of system tied to inequality in economic, racial, and class structures.
- Lack of relevance for students engagement and increased focus on standardization.
Finally, Melissa encouraged participants to offer a “harvest” of key points of the dialogue She moved the group into problem-solving and offering pragmatic solutions at a local and national level. Highlights from that conversation included:
- Enable students to live critically, interrogate and analyze themselves and the world in which they live.
- Help individuals find a sense of larger empathy for both the self and the greater world.
- Create allied communities where students can both thrive and contribute.
- Introduce trauma-sensitive approaches in the classroom to aid struggling students and reorient teachers’ approaches.
The workshop was intended to be a catalyst for conversation and sustainable change. While there is no easy solution, the workshop was a reminder that there is an engaged local community invested in the next generation. Beyond solidified goals and a focus on solutions, the workshop also provided a key connecting point for educators and community leaders to listen, dialogue and partner with one another in striving towards a stronger model of engagement and education.
(Photos: Mosaic Education Network)