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We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

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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 mak 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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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 mak 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.

30 review for We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Some books you read fast because you can't take in information fast enough. This book is one you read slow because every morsel of information is big and powerful and makes you think. All educators should read this. I wish I could take a class with her. Some books you read fast because you can't take in information fast enough. This book is one you read slow because every morsel of information is big and powerful and makes you think. All educators should read this. I wish I could take a class with her.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Langa

    Every educator should read this book. Period.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenell

    This one goes in the “Required Texts” section of my Autumn 2019 syllabus.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zachari Curtis

    "See me after class." While I'm in no position to actually call the author in, there were several times while I was reading where I wanted to highlight the paradoxes she seemed to be creating by collapsing rather than wrestling with the complexities of the interlocking theories she prescribes to abolitionists. The book initially is very engaging but, perhaps in an effort to cover ground and provide historical or cultural context to anchor her stories, it devolves into a rushed list of historical "See me after class." While I'm in no position to actually call the author in, there were several times while I was reading where I wanted to highlight the paradoxes she seemed to be creating by collapsing rather than wrestling with the complexities of the interlocking theories she prescribes to abolitionists. The book initially is very engaging but, perhaps in an effort to cover ground and provide historical or cultural context to anchor her stories, it devolves into a rushed list of historical touch points that mimic the ways that black history and black cultural study is reduced, distorted and comodified by the textbook industry--the very structure she's trying to critique. A particularly frustrating example is her mention of the Atlanta Child Murders. Love mentions the incident superficially then pivots immediately to discussing how black girls are criminalized in school and how they experience violence at disproportionate rates. While this may be true in comparisson to white girls, it lacks useful context. Not for nothing, most of the Atlanta Child Murder victims were young black boys. Many were immediately dismissed as feral runaways, bad kids, and dropouts which stalled the investigation into why they were missing until parents and community got involved. If Love had wanted to talk about gendered violence in the school system rather than just parrot surface-level intersectionality, this was a missed opportunity to talk about how the over-prevalence of white women in desegregated schools is directly correlated to school discipline regimes that funnel black boys primarily but black girls as well into prisons and foster care. White fears of black boys "agression" (grit) were hypersexualized and became the main driver for school segregation and the and underlying cause of the severity of punishment that remove black boys from school. I had hope when earlier in the book she made it clear that intersectionality is not about ignoring boys and men but it didn't pan out. Really glaring errors like this are abundant and I just wish she had had someone reading/editing it with an eye for clarifying the complexities. While I really appreciated the apparent vulnerability of Love's storytelling style, I found her engagement with theory--espescially around race--not only incomplete but timid in a way that bends away from the justice seeking abolitionism she makes the center of her work. Her belated too brief mention of her role on the BOARD OF A CHARTER SCHOOL is another missed opportunity to use her story to tell the truth about the messy ways we participate in the system. There were several instances where she seemed to sacrifice clarity for an attempt at poetry. Her use of the word "dark" was grounded in a critical reading of Dubois's work trying to understand how black people coming out of slavery were to achieve full citizenship and dignity. Love has clearly done a deep dive into Dubois's lifelong struggle with this question. She, however, doesn't take into account the specificity of the black experience and uses "dark" to mean more of a color than a political condition in order to apply it to anyone not white. This problematic because it projects a togetherness of thought and action that simply isn't true and obscures the investment of non-black groups in weaponized anti-blackness. Love is somewhat forthcoming about the anti-black roots of some people of color group ideologies but never truly makes it clear how pervasive it is to parasitize off of black people for other groups to access whiteness and escape oppression. In the theory chapter, she even dedicates a significant portion of the Critical Race Theory section to other forms of "CRT" in a way that I think mimics the theoretical parasitism. Don't get me wrong, I'm passionate about this critique because I got a lot out of reading it. I think it's a good book for kids studying media literacy, race and education or civics to learn from parts of it but its flaws almost require a shadow curriculum. Finally, I abandoned the notion that there would be any talk about what's after abolition....aka reparations, educational restructuring to right the wrongs were just surviving. Love comes so close in accounting for our losses--fired black teachers, soul murdered black students--but never discussed the implication of seeking redress.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maya McKenzie

    Should be MANDATORY reading for all educators

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I wanted to like this book. We need more discussion about the systemic ways in which the various intersecting systems of American life contribute to poverty and oppression of POC, driven by racism rooted in White privilege. Unfortunately, this book does not fill that purpose well enough for me to pass it on to my friends who need to be introduced to Critical Race Theory in a non-technical setting. I came here hoping this book would do for education what Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow gave I wanted to like this book. We need more discussion about the systemic ways in which the various intersecting systems of American life contribute to poverty and oppression of POC, driven by racism rooted in White privilege. Unfortunately, this book does not fill that purpose well enough for me to pass it on to my friends who need to be introduced to Critical Race Theory in a non-technical setting. I came here hoping this book would do for education what Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow gave to me, a White person, in opening my eyes to systemic injustice within the criminal justice system. Aside from her personal discussions of what school felt like to her (valuable), the author seems to prioritize expressions of anger and rage (that's ok!) over methodical discussion of theory or even a road map that would lead people like me toward a better understanding of whatever it is she wants us to understand. The book repeatedly mentions the need to dismantle the educational systems which do so much harm to Black kids (Yes! we agree!), but she offers nothing to help me do that, besides saying "it's not impossible" and "we must take an abolitionist's approach" (okay?). The book swings wildly between attempting to reach an audience who knows nothing about racism (I assume her audience for those parts is un-woke White people or maybe her undergraduate pre-service teachers) and "preaching to the choir" about how bad White racism is using only the most general examples. I agreed with her conclusions most of the time, but the book adds very little real information to the conversation because she doesn't do much to build an actual argument. I appreciate books that work through emotion rather than argument (Coates's Between the World and Me comes to mind as an outstanding example), but Love fails to accomplish her purpose here, as far as I can tell. The second half of the book, picking up around chapter 3, got closer to the author's goal. For example, I learned a lot from her account of growing up in Rochester NY, her description of attending Catholic elementary school where all of her teachers were white and no one gave her the language of political action she needed to survive "the hood" (as she termed it), the power of joyful struggle, and the huge group of people who banded together to be a community to help her survive and "make it." That was a powerful chapter. I also appreciated the final chapter on theory, though it's only a very basic introduction to Critical Race Theory and critical pedagogy. Worthwhile read and probably my favorite chapter in the book. I am sure Dr. Love provokes her students to challenge their biases and I hope many of UGA's undergraduate teacher candidates go through her courses on diversity and inclusion. She accurately identifies the crucial lack of understanding of race issues and American history represented among her idealistic and naive 18-24 year old future teachers. She's right that we're sending armies of (White, female) teachers into classrooms completely unprepared to identify and address the harms of centuries of racist oppression. What she fails to provide is any road map for what the rest of us are supposed to do about it. PS. I found Chris Emdin's For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood....And the Rest of Us Too to be a much better handbook for culturally appropriate teaching practices, and a helpful explanation to White teachers to understand Black practices and culture.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

    I sponged up every word in MORE THAN SURVIVE; it spoke deeply and directly to the kind of teacher I try to be, to the kind of teaching I believe in. Love's antiracist analysis struck every right chord: her theorizing of the "educational survival complex;" critique of the no-excuses “gimmicks” of "grit" and "zest;" and ultimate framework for abolitionist teaching, built on mattering, freedom-dreaming, solidarity, and resistance. The snag for me: it felt in some ways like only half a book—all theor I sponged up every word in MORE THAN SURVIVE; it spoke deeply and directly to the kind of teacher I try to be, to the kind of teaching I believe in. Love's antiracist analysis struck every right chord: her theorizing of the "educational survival complex;" critique of the no-excuses “gimmicks” of "grit" and "zest;" and ultimate framework for abolitionist teaching, built on mattering, freedom-dreaming, solidarity, and resistance. The snag for me: it felt in some ways like only half a book—all theory, no practice. In the penultimate chapter, Love effuses over theory as her "North Star," a "steadfast tool" and "location for healing" (132). I dig theory, too, and I think Love's theorizing around abolition in education is absolutely essential. Still, Love herself admits, "Theory does not solve issues—only action and solidarity can do that..." (132). It's certainly not Love's responsibility to write more than theory. But I think I needed, as her reader, fuller sketches of what abolitionist teaching looks like in practice for it to take on lasting weight as a theory. In other words, I was hungry for case studies of abolitionist praxis, her theory in action. And she does gloss it; in a section called "The Work" in her brilliant chapter on freedom dreaming, she spends 14 pages offering one example after another: from the militancy of the Chicago Teachers Union and intersectionality of Black Youth Project to the campaign for Congress of Jahana Hayes and Marley Dias' girl-of-color book drive. But I wanted full chapters about "The Work," in-depth looks inside classrooms, unions, and other radical homes of abolitionist teaching. In all, Love's MORE THAN SURVIVE is an incredible primer on radical educating that I want every teacher to read. And it's truly up to us to figure out how to make the freedom dreams come true.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    THIS BOOK!! Bringing the spirit and work of abolitionists to education! Education in the pursuit of liberation! YOU. MUST. READ!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kimberley

    "Abolitionist Teaching" is what Bettina Love says we need more of in our schools and, as a mother, I couldn't agree more with her analysis: Racism is not exclusive to one political party or a particular type of White person. White, well-meaning, liberal teachers can be racist too. From that point, Love lays out where it all went, and continues to go, wrong. However, she also offers a solution as to how we can make a difference--as educators, parents, activists, politicians, etc.--in the lives of "Abolitionist Teaching" is what Bettina Love says we need more of in our schools and, as a mother, I couldn't agree more with her analysis: Racism is not exclusive to one political party or a particular type of White person. White, well-meaning, liberal teachers can be racist too. From that point, Love lays out where it all went, and continues to go, wrong. However, she also offers a solution as to how we can make a difference--as educators, parents, activists, politicians, etc.--in the lives of those who will one day be entrusted to rule the world. It's clear we've got a lot of work to do but much of it has to do with understanding the role we play in continuing the cycle. No one gets off easy in Love's view. That said, if you're easily offended, or get in your feelings when someone mentions your White privilege, you need to read this book. If you're a parent, you need to be read this book. If you're an educator, you need to read this book. If you're a functioning adult, you need. TO READ. THIS. BOOK! We're part of the problem and also its solution. Love doesn't mince words when making it clear she's not concerned with your feelings. She couldn't care less if you're offended, or otherwise. Her goal is to make sure you check the origin of those feelings and associate them with the privilege they're likely borne out of; if you can't do that , consider yourself part of the problem. I've read a lot of books about education, poverty, and race over the last couple of years, but never have I read anything that states the problem, and the solution, as clearly as Love. Education is one of the primary tools used to maintain White supremacy and anti-immigrant hate. Teachers entering the field of education must know this history, acknowledge this history, and understand why it matters in the present-day context of education, White rage, and dark suffering There's a lot to be gleaned from this impressive nod to what is, hopefully, an ongoing conversation about education and "Abolitionist Teaching". A fantastic book that should not be overlooked. *Thank you to Edelweiss+ for this advanced eGalley of Bettina Love's book, "We Want to Do More than Survive"; book was offered free of charge but opinion is my own.*

  10. 4 out of 5

    Becky R.

    As a white teacher in a very white school, I've desperately been seeking ways to challenge my own bias, my own culturally taught racism, my own bigotry. This is a systemic problem, and it had to start with me looking at myself. I have an MA in ethnic literature and spent an entire higher educational career challenging norms and reading about experiences outside my own. But now as a professional, how do I pass on this personal journey to my own students? How do I challenge them, without pushing w As a white teacher in a very white school, I've desperately been seeking ways to challenge my own bias, my own culturally taught racism, my own bigotry. This is a systemic problem, and it had to start with me looking at myself. I have an MA in ethnic literature and spent an entire higher educational career challenging norms and reading about experiences outside my own. But now as a professional, how do I pass on this personal journey to my own students? How do I challenge them, without pushing what I know to be true? In short, how do I awaken awareness in students that have too much privilege to even know they have it? Honestly, this book made me feel like there was nothing I could do at first. The experiences and stories were told from communities with so much more diversity than we experience. For the small number of students of color that I have had over the years, I have worked to create a safe space in my room, and to give them voice and representation. I suppose my real issue is with my white students, who don't see their own racism, or privilege, or buy in to systems of power. This book pushed me pretty hard to really look at how I talk about ones civic duties. I came to realize that while I try to expose my students to the difficult issues of race we still face in this country, that I have to show them that speaking out about it doesn't make you a bad or radical person. To work to root out racism--the systematic repression of people of color for economic and political power--that I have to talk about what people are doing to fight these power structures, but without telling anyone what to think or believe. In short, I need to pose strong questions and then let kids talk. This book has pushed me beyond my classroom walls into deep conversations with my coworkers. What we have determined is that we need to start a social justice club at our school, where we can teach and discuss HOW to put ideas and frustrations into action. Our mainly white students are crying out to take action and to talk about their fears for their futures. What this book taught me is that we really have to provide that space and allow these kids to step into their power to make their future better and brighter, for all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chyann

    If you serve, teach, raise, make policy for, are related to, live next to, go to school with, or know Black and Brown children in any capacity, you need to read this book. Required reading for all.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mileena Cannella

    Every educator, whether you teach BIPOC students or not, needs to read this book. I'd actually recommend owning it so you can reread it every time you need to check your privilege or lend it to someone who seriously needs to. One of the criticisms of a book with "Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom" in its title is that Love doesn't necessarily offer real teaching/pedagogical practices for educators. I'd argue otherwise. You'll quickly discover in this book that abolition Every educator, whether you teach BIPOC students or not, needs to read this book. I'd actually recommend owning it so you can reread it every time you need to check your privilege or lend it to someone who seriously needs to. One of the criticisms of a book with "Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom" in its title is that Love doesn't necessarily offer real teaching/pedagogical practices for educators. I'd argue otherwise. You'll quickly discover in this book that abolitionist teaching is not a noun. It's a verb-- a verb she never claims to provide a prescription solution for but rather a painstakingly long list of ways the systemic racism in our country has failed its BIPOC students. Love writes, "Abolitionist teaching is not a teaching approach: It is a way of life, a way of seeing the world, and a way of taking action against injustices. It seeks to resist, agitate, and tear down the educational survival complex through teachers who work in solidarity with their schools' community to achieve incremental changes in their classrooms and schools for students in the present day, while simultaneously freedom dreaming and vigorously creating a vision for what schools will be when the educational survival complex is destroyed." "Abolitionist teaching is as much about tearing down old structures and ways of thinking as it is about forming new ideas, new forms of social interactions, new ways to be inclusive, new ways to discuss equality and distribute wealth and resources, new ways to resist, new prisons, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and mass incarceration, new ways to reach children trying to recover from the educational survival complex, new ways to show dark children they are loved in this world, and new ways to establish an education system that works for everyone, especially those who are put at the edges of the classroom and society." The relevant and valuable information presented in this book is woven in with Love's personal narrative. She does well to generalize when it’s right, and well to add in the "not all but most" when necessary, which I appreciate. I also simply enjoyed reading about not only her experiences as a child from Rochester and the village/homeplace that helped raised her but also the number of people she's met, the different places she's taught, and the vulnerability she voluntarily offered about neglecting her own survival mode complex. There is an interesting section on charter schools, and as a first-year teacher about to embark on her teaching journey at one of the leading charter school networks in the country (and of which I was a student of), I am eager to have a conversation with fellow charter school educators on Love's depiction, especially the section on "grit." In short, read this book. Own it. Learn from it. Become an abolitionist teacher NOW.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Monise

    I finally finished. My copy has lots of underlined sentences and paragraphs. Reading this book has helped me understand one of the more pressing explanations behind the 'slump' I feel right now: I'm not working or have enough contact with Black teachers who are ready or willing to be abolitionist teachers. It's too risky. Their (perceived) place in the hierarchy is at stake. They aren't ready to not be included or praised. I need to be surrounded and motivated by abolitionist teachers. This book l I finally finished. My copy has lots of underlined sentences and paragraphs. Reading this book has helped me understand one of the more pressing explanations behind the 'slump' I feel right now: I'm not working or have enough contact with Black teachers who are ready or willing to be abolitionist teachers. It's too risky. Their (perceived) place in the hierarchy is at stake. They aren't ready to not be included or praised. I need to be surrounded and motivated by abolitionist teachers. This book laid it out for me. Definitely worth a second read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Excellent essay in the injustices put upon African Americans in the past and currently. Very direct and to the point. Bettina L. Love comes from Rochester NY where I’m from so I identified with what she said about Rochester. Once a thriving city in many ways, it has become a city with a huge concentration of poverty. Heartbreakingly so. Important book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    After saying this morning that I wanted to get back to this book this week (I started it in August, set it down halfway through since I wasn’t finished by the Bookclub date, and then basically lost it on my coffee table 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️), I wound up finishing it tonight, while listening to George Winston and having 90s college flashbacks. . This book is fantastic. Certainly a must-read for teachers. At least I have a clear vision of what / who I want to be for my students even if I’m still ge After saying this morning that I wanted to get back to this book this week (I started it in August, set it down halfway through since I wasn’t finished by the Bookclub date, and then basically lost it on my coffee table 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️), I wound up finishing it tonight, while listening to George Winston and having 90s college flashbacks. . This book is fantastic. Certainly a must-read for teachers. At least I have a clear vision of what / who I want to be for my students even if I’m still getting there. An abolitionist teacher. A co-conspirator, instead of an ally. . This book touches on things you may have heard mentioned a lot this week. Freedom, like democracy, is a constant never ending practice. It’s not a state of being. (Paraphrasing Michael Hanes-Garcia.) It’s not enough to just close your door and teach—that helps you but doesn’t really help your kids. . I’m incredibly frustrated remote teaching right now but this book did remind me of why I’m here in the first place. And all the work I need to stay committed to.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faith Rush

    So much to process and apply from this book. I imagine I will reread it in the future, as I’m sure I will get more and more out of it every time I read it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

    As everyone has stated in their reviews, every educator should read this book. I especially like the idea of being a co-conspirator versus being an ally. Almost every page had an idea that I had to stop and reflect on. This book challenges and encourages. I will continue to reference for many years to come. Also, H2P!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maitland Gray

    I felt dissatisfied when I finished this book until I came to the realization that this book is best for educators. When I started it, I was hoping to learn what the author thinks needs to happen in order to transform education. But that's a different kind of book. This book's emphasis is on recognizing the influence of racism (mostly focusing on education). It's more of a primer book to awaken the ideas that motivate you to pursue these topics further. I'd definitely like to continue learning m I felt dissatisfied when I finished this book until I came to the realization that this book is best for educators. When I started it, I was hoping to learn what the author thinks needs to happen in order to transform education. But that's a different kind of book. This book's emphasis is on recognizing the influence of racism (mostly focusing on education). It's more of a primer book to awaken the ideas that motivate you to pursue these topics further. I'd definitely like to continue learning more about the problems that have been built into the education system for so long. Not a bad book, but I'd mainly only recommend it to those who are teachers or school administrators.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Love is from Rochester, New York and uses a lot of the statistics and educational angles in the context of the Rochester system which is in my home state and as an educator, with a friend in Rochester, and working in Albany that is frequently discussed with other "big city" urban schools such as Rochester this had special significance. If you read professional texts, most of the information she presents as foundation for continuing ed for teachers and/or education for new teachers is not too but Love is from Rochester, New York and uses a lot of the statistics and educational angles in the context of the Rochester system which is in my home state and as an educator, with a friend in Rochester, and working in Albany that is frequently discussed with other "big city" urban schools such as Rochester this had special significance. If you read professional texts, most of the information she presents as foundation for continuing ed for teachers and/or education for new teachers is not too but a continued conversation about changing the narrative and language we use as educators particularly if we are not representative of the students we teach. She also explains that abolitionist teaching is not a prescribed curriculum but the incorporation of elements of culture and history in particular to represent everyone in their learning. There are nuggets of wisdom throughout that give pause and reflection (and a picture to take to re-read and take action against), but sometimes the overuse of anecdotes was tedious (and I usually like that more) when I wanted more of the pedagogy. Otherwise a super solid professional read for educators. "Few teacher education programs require their students to take classes in African studies... Teachers of all background walk into classrooms never studying the history or culture of the children they are going to teach. So, how can teachers be culturally relevant when they have not studied culture? Culture does not simply fall from the sky. Traditions and ways of being are intentionally created and crafted because culture reflects the educational, social, economic, political, and spiritual conditions of people. Culture is not as biological as we think. It is a group's knowledge production process that occurs as they understand and respond to their reality and create ways of being to survive or thrive in their everyday lives." ".. Bernice Johnson Reagon calls 'the sweetness of the struggle.' An antiracist approach elicits the understanding that the work of living and learning is about the solidarity created through shared struggle. Antiracist teaching is not just about acknowledging that racism exists but about consciously committing to the struggle of fighting for racial justice, and it is fundamental to abolitionist teaching... All teacher, regardless of race or ethnicity, need to know that racism is not separate from economic class and that resistance, in its various forms, is always an option. We also need to recognize the specific nuances of different types of dark oppression, recognizing that not all injustices are the same."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Every educator (but particularly white educators) should read this book. It's revolutionary and easily one of the best books for educators that I have in a long time. I kept pausing to highlight and re-reread passages. Dr. Bettina Love voices and synthesizes so many issues in teaching that I haven't been able to articulate myself. It felt like an exhale when I finally saw the words on the page. As a non-Black POC/educator, I found this to be an incredible resource and one that I want every educa Every educator (but particularly white educators) should read this book. It's revolutionary and easily one of the best books for educators that I have in a long time. I kept pausing to highlight and re-reread passages. Dr. Bettina Love voices and synthesizes so many issues in teaching that I haven't been able to articulate myself. It felt like an exhale when I finally saw the words on the page. As a non-Black POC/educator, I found this to be an incredible resource and one that I want every educator in my school building to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frances Starn

    There’s a lot of important work in this book and there are sections that really spoken to me. However, While it focuses on providing the national context for the need for abolitionist teaching, it fails to truly provide a framework of what abolitionist teaching looks like. For me, it too often falls on listing and references proving the need for abolitionist teaching without providing any meat on how abolitionist teaching can be operationalized.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    The historical stories of so many impactful individuals were inspiring, and so were the specific sections on freedom dreaming and using art to express dreams about what life can be with no limits for our kids! Abolitionist teaching revolves around joy and embracing the whole child for all of their identity - linguistic, familial, aspirational, social, navigational, and resistance.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steph Landry

    This was a fantastic and important read. One of the best professional texts I've read in years. Dr. Love's work has had a profound impact on my orientation as a teacher and has helped me build my understanding of abolitionist teaching. Also, while the book is geared towards educators, I think it is accessible for folks in other fields and is a great text for anyone wanting to deepen their understanding of the broader abolitionist movement. This was a fantastic and important read. One of the best professional texts I've read in years. Dr. Love's work has had a profound impact on my orientation as a teacher and has helped me build my understanding of abolitionist teaching. Also, while the book is geared towards educators, I think it is accessible for folks in other fields and is a great text for anyone wanting to deepen their understanding of the broader abolitionist movement.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    This book is one I will return to. Challenging and encouraging and a hard read. Love cuts to the heart of the issues with being a white educator teaching dark children, and in doing so, lays bare the racism at the root of so many classroom practices. I need to ruminate and reread.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Vlasak

    This book is not just for educators, it’s for everyone. Read it to learn, to grow and for inspiration in the fight against racism and the fight for abolitionist teaching.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: A plea and argument for abolitionist teaching that advocates for educational justice in our schools, that understands and is in solidarity with the struggle people of color face in our often racialized schools, and affirms the goodness and joy of one's ethnic, sexual, and gendered identity. This book is an impassioned argument for "abolitionist teaching." The writer, educational theorist Bettina L. Love, offers this definition: "Abolitionist teaching is the practice of working in solidari Summary: A plea and argument for abolitionist teaching that advocates for educational justice in our schools, that understands and is in solidarity with the struggle people of color face in our often racialized schools, and affirms the goodness and joy of one's ethnic, sexual, and gendered identity. This book is an impassioned argument for "abolitionist teaching." The writer, educational theorist Bettina L. Love, offers this definition: "Abolitionist teaching is the practice of working in solidarity with communities of color while drawing on the imagination, creativity, refusal, (re)membering, visionary thinking, healing,  rebellious spirit, boldness, determination, and subversiveness of abolitionists to eradicate injustice inside and outside of schools" (p. 2). In this work, she describes an "educational survival complex," in which schools serving people of color struggle under regimes of performance testing (and the testing companies who profit from all this), school report cards where "failing" jeopardizes funding, and often where students see few teachers of their own ethnicity. She describes how important the seemingly simple thing of mattering can be with examples of teachers, coaches, mentors, and advocates who said she mattered, helping her to obtain an athletic scholarship that launched her academic career. She has harsh words to say about an educational culture that has only a cursory grasp of the power of white privilege, and does not understand the need for advocacy for children of color, or as she describes them, "we who are dark."  She is highly critical of character education programs like Grit, arguing that the circumstances under which many students live already require grit in abundance. Instead, they may need celebrating. She also decries the substitution of character courses for those on civics--then engagement with the political structures needed to advocate for justice. She believes students need co-conspirators who educate with a culturally relevant pedagogy. She seems most concerned for teachers who call themselves "white" and who labor under the burden of whiteness and then afflict this on students of color. Love also engages the additional layers of intersectionality as a black woman who is lesbian. She helps readers recognize the added layers of struggle to thrive involved in these additional layers and seeks to advocate for others in this situation. I mention this book is an impassioned argument. Apart from citing some studies of the impact of having teachers of one's own ethnicity in one's schools, this book feels long on theory and short on practice. I do not have reservations about her arguments. It makes sense that students will do better when they know they matter and when their education speaks to their identity rather than tries to conform them to a dominant culture. Rather, I would like to have seen a few case studies beside the author's own experiences where theory has been translated into practice, showing marked flourishing of students. Perhaps it is hard to implement such programs in the state and federally mandated testing regime approach to schools that I have heard teachers decry even in suburban schools with good report cards. It would be great to know of places where Love's approach is working. Also, I recall a presentation by an educator on the faculty of a school dedicated to training teachers in justice pedagogy, but whose teachers were found to lack content competency in the subjects they taught, with the impact that school districts would no longer hire their teachers. It seems to me that a culturally relevant pedagogy that results in students flourishing, fosters excellence not only in artistic and social studies programs, but in reading, language, math and science programs. I hope subsequent works by this author addresses these matters. Perhaps this is asking a great deal of one book. Perhaps first we need to hear the educational equivalent of "black lives matter" and sit with that truth. Love contends that "dark" students matter and what is needed are those who so enter into these students lives that they know existentially that they do matter. Too many are going through our schools without knowing that fundamental truth so crucial to grounding one's life. Anyone who has had a teacher who showed them they matter knows what this can mean. Hopefully every child will not be left to struggle to survive rather than be buoyed by such support and advocacy. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terry Jess

    This book is everything. If you are an aspiring antiracist educator, you will find equal parts validation and challenge. This is the book we need, and abolitionist teaching is where we must head. Thank you Dr. Love!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

    In We Want to Do More Than Survive, Bettina Love, a lifelong educator, paints a clear picture of the systemic nature of racism in our educational system. She examines the role of for-profit organizations in undermining true learning and the role of whiteness, including that of well-intended white folks, in killing the spirits of children. She persuasively argues that there is another way forward, a way that not only makes room for black students to breathe and thrive but also creates paths and p In We Want to Do More Than Survive, Bettina Love, a lifelong educator, paints a clear picture of the systemic nature of racism in our educational system. She examines the role of for-profit organizations in undermining true learning and the role of whiteness, including that of well-intended white folks, in killing the spirits of children. She persuasively argues that there is another way forward, a way that not only makes room for black students to breathe and thrive but also creates paths and possibilities for all students from marginalized groups. While the intended audience for this book seems to be educators themselves, there is much to be found here for anyone who cares about education and racism. Many of the specific actions that are outlined for those in the profession are both accessible to anyone in the community, particularly parents, or easily adapted to other arenas of life. This is a dense read so packed with information that it takes much longer to read than one would ordinarily expect of 170 pages. However, your time will be an investment that brings many returns. I received a complimentary copy of this book via a LibraryThing Early Reviewer giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I’ve been reading a series of really wonderful books recently on anti-racism and culturally relevant pedagogy. This, unfortunately, isn’t wonderful. It is chock full of unsubstantiated claims like “character education is anti-black.” I’m not honestly a fan of character education either, but she doesn’t give any reasoning for her claim. In this book, pretty much everything is racially motivated. We in the US have an enduring problem with systemic racism, but absolute unsupported paranoia isn’t th I’ve been reading a series of really wonderful books recently on anti-racism and culturally relevant pedagogy. This, unfortunately, isn’t wonderful. It is chock full of unsubstantiated claims like “character education is anti-black.” I’m not honestly a fan of character education either, but she doesn’t give any reasoning for her claim. In this book, pretty much everything is racially motivated. We in the US have an enduring problem with systemic racism, but absolute unsupported paranoia isn’t the answer. I know many love this book, but for me this relies too heavily on emotional appeals rather than logic. The author starts with a personal account of injustice, a compelling start, but never really gets past that personal anger. This book reads like an extended personal vent session. Better books are out there that do excellent job of presenting the issues, requiring internal analysis into biases, and then immediately taking us what we can do to impact a movement of change. Ones that come immediately to mind are Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain by Hammond and Everyday Anti-Racism edited by Pollock.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you! I feel like I missed something in this book. The writing was serviceable, but not memorable. The autobiographical bits were interesting to learn a bit about the author, but I wanted more on education. There was more memoir and more general race theory than I expected, and less concrete focus on the education system. I recognize that it is challenging to disentangle from a lot of other aspects, but the discussion was too surface level. It ne I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you! I feel like I missed something in this book. The writing was serviceable, but not memorable. The autobiographical bits were interesting to learn a bit about the author, but I wanted more on education. There was more memoir and more general race theory than I expected, and less concrete focus on the education system. I recognize that it is challenging to disentangle from a lot of other aspects, but the discussion was too surface level. It needed to distinguish itself from other works I've read, like those by Ibram Kendi (whom she cites a lot), Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, Toni Morrison, Kiese Laymon, Bryan Stevenson... Without, I would gravitate to those authors.

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