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Privileged Reflections: Recognition of Past and Future

So, it is 1:30 in the A.M. on the left-coast and now, three days later, I finally am beginning to digest and respond to this week’s question…how did I get here?  Or something along that effect. 

When I really think about it, how I got here, how I have made a difference and become the “progressive educator” that I currently am, it is really, quite boring.  I hope that you keep reading and do not stop here, but if I am truly honest with myself, basically, I believe, it is my privilege that has allowed me to physically and mentally become opened to the ideas of education on a grandeur scale. 

There should be some back story, right?  Something that tells the “American dream” or oppression or struggle that really opened my eyes, that allowed me to fight against injustice or recognize the dysfunctional excuse for an education system that we currently structure in this society…but really, there is not.  It is simply my privilege that has allowed me to be here. 

It really is not as odd as it might seem at first.  Examine this:  I am a white, male, Protestant Christian, low-income family (but working family, not exceptionally poor), two-parent household, only child, who grew up in the suburbs.  I am, if not completely economically, at least socially, spiritually and emotionally as privileged as it gets.  But its not as odd for me to be fighting for injustice, oppression, progressive ideals and democratic education as this breakdown, categorized listing of my character might presumably assume. 

It is my contention, that privilege and ideals span across political, economical and social boundaries or leanings.  My choice in determining my philosophy, my dream, my ideal and my collaboration with others is based on many factors, but mostly and firstly, myself.  I could critically think about my place in the world, the struggles I have overcome in order to reach this most privileged institution, but I doubt it would change the fact that I am damn lucky to have made it here and even more so to have embraced Goddard and the ever-expanding culture and discussion I now find myself in with this group of like-minded educational brains.     

So I guess, for me, looking at the past and the arrival of this moment in time, is really a referendum on the privilege in which I have been granted and instead of focusing solely on the privilege, I hope to spread that experience to others who are currently are not as lucky to have the exposure of such amazing self-actualization, cutting-edge philosophers, and the belief of their ability and role in changing the world. 

I will not pretend that there is a great story behind my experience or some tremendous struggle that had to be overcome, but I will also not pretend that this privileged means I am required or socially constructed to follow a specific creed that indicates my preference for war, banks, environmental harm, or religious persecution.  Arrogance about myself has not gotten me to where I am today, neither will I let it carry me to where I am headed.  My experience, truthfully, is A-Typical, not-one-of-a-kind, or anything special, but that does not limit me, guilt me, or stop me from working towards love and away from hatred, towards empathy and away from tyranny, towards learning and away from regurgitation.


About caseykcaronna

A 27 year old Master of Arts in Education Degree holder from the progressive, liberal arts school, Goddard College. I am interested in Holistic, Community, Progressive, Democratic and Student-Centered Education. I am currently a part-time employee with the Boy Scouts of America. I am writing my first book on holistic education and looking for full time employment in education, throughout the United States and Canada. I am interested in all things education and hope to make trans-formative changes to the educational system(s) in America and in the process help to improve the lives of the individuals in whom it serves.


3 thoughts on “Privileged Reflections: Recognition of Past and Future

  1. Casey, I hope we encourage others to have their own personal referenda on what teaching and learning should be. We need an ascent from where we are, not an assent to it.

    Sometime in the future it would be useful to invite dissenters to join us or to describe for one another how we challenge “tyranny” in education, whether it be personal or systematic.

    I wonder how much we are “getting away with” vs. how much we are changing. How often are we left to our own devices and how does being left alone preclude us working towards Joe’s tipping point? Where is the line of compromise between being “special” and doing right by the kids we have and being actively engaged in changing (taking on) a system and colleagues against, unready for, or unaware of the changes we want?

    Is there a hidden cost to being maverick? How do you drag the fulcrum of change to our side of the spectrum, far from the middle?

    How do you harness the dissimilar educational dissatisfactions of others from similar backgrounds? From different backgrounds?

    I worry about building the Ivory Tower all over again. Maybe we should all take trips like Kirsten’s to explain ourselves to people who haven’t ever considered the changes to which we ascribe and aspire.

    All the best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 15, 2010, 8:09 am
  2. Hi Casey, Thank you for this powerful reflection, and your including thoughts here about your social class, race, and sense of privilege. That’s so important, and needs to be a part of every conversation.

    I, like you, believe, “…that privilege and ideals span across political, economical and social boundaries or leanings. My choice in determining my philosophy, my dream, my ideal and my collaboration with others is based on many factors, but mostly and firstly, myself.”

    Here are two examples of what you are talking about that inspire me: the white woman who stood up for Elizabeth Eckford when she was being menaced by the crowd the first morning of the Little Rock Nine school integration at Central HIgh School in 1957–imagine what her neighbors said to her? (,+nine+African-American+students…-a0168361177)

    Or Sheena Duncan, the white “ordinary housewife” who created a national movement of other “middle class housewives” to oppose apartheid in South Africa for decades before the ANC came to power?

    You are describing following in their footsteps?

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | May 17, 2010, 10:41 am
  3. Those are excellent examples Kristen. I do believe there is a certain barrier that does exist, even for the privilege, once they recognize their privilege and begin to fight for social justice and equality, that, in some ways, may harm their ability to continually stay AS privileged. The women’s movement in the 19th Century is filled with aristocratic women, while being severely oppressed as a woman, but still being economically advantaged, choose to write, protest, lecture and stand up for equality among women, while, I am sure, still recognizing the impact that would have on them, both positively and negativelly, economically.

    Hi Chad,
    I love the questions and insight you display in response to this post. These are exactly the same thoughts that I have had recently. While I feel amazed to have such privilege to be apart of a progressive, educational insitution such as Goddard. At the same time, I wonder about how if we take that privilege away, that might effect the uniqueness and “maverick-ness” regarding the education we are learning? While I try to shut out the strong feelings of goodness that being in a privilege state allows, because, of either guilt or seperate or elitist mentality it brings, I also wonder about the cost of losing that feeling altogether.

    The public system should be a tremendous and amazing benefit to all, yet, in my opinion, it is the most dysfunctional, disorganized, anti-learning environment that is in learning, not even just in education. I continually am “on the fence” on my feelings of my privilege, the privilege of others and the lack of privilege for the overwhelming majority of individuals.

    Is there a portion of learning that is deemed special because of its seperation? Or do we only believe that is is special at all, because of its seperation?

    Posted by educationalrevolutionist | May 26, 2010, 10:26 pm

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