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Students As Freedom Fighters

Driving back from a school leaders conference yesterday, I had a wonderful conversation with Gwen Lowenheim, a partner in transformational work using play and improv in schools.  Gwen mentioned something she heard recently, from someone who had done a lot of work in both prisons and schools.  This person said,  ironically, people in prison may be more free because they know they have no freedom.  In school, there is the illusion of it.

That’s why this video is so fabulous, so full of fight.  This is no armchair revolution.  This is conscientizacao, the act of waking up.

The best part may be the expressions of the students in the audience.

About Kirsten Olson

I'm writer and educational activist. I work in public, charter, private, unschools. I'm here for the learning revolution.


11 thoughts on “Students As Freedom Fighters

  1. You had to go kill my #ncte10 buzz with questions about ethics, action, & insubordination, didn’t you, Kirsten?

    I was gonna go find an armchair, too.

    Posted by Chad Sansing | November 19, 2010, 5:46 pm
  2. Brilliant video. Thanks. Is that how most American schools look?

    Posted by whatedsaid | November 19, 2010, 5:58 pm
  3. Wow! I’d also be interested in knowing if this is what your schools are like, too.

    Posted by Jay Collier | November 19, 2010, 11:55 pm
  4. 1st Thanks for sharing, I was moved to tears and I am not embarrassed to admit it.
    2nd I am jealous
    3rd I hope that one day my students will grow up to become these students.
    4th I hope that I can access the skills and courage necessary to facilitate and motivate students to this level of conscientiousness. I am in awe.

    Posted by Valerie Burton | November 20, 2010, 1:01 pm
  5. Friends, I am writing from Prague, the site of the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Yes, these students are incredible and I hope my students will be inspired by these students, and all courageous students who stand up and speak out. No armchairs, no waiting for someone else to do it.

    Posted by kirsten olson | November 21, 2010, 4:33 am
  6. Thanks for the post, Kirsten.

    These kids rock!

    “No coughing, no sneezing. No laughing no breathing…Just Quiet!” Beautiful.

    I am guessing many of you know of Theater of the Oppressed:

    And the work of Augusto Boal, Brazilian radical educator in the 60’s. If not, check ’em out – very much along these lines. Think Freirean theater. Very cool stuff. I had a colleague who brought some of this kind of theater work into my class a few years back. Some really effective consciousness-raising. Highly recommend it.

    Hope you’re enjoying Prague, Kirsten. Travel safe!


    Posted by Paul Freedman | November 21, 2010, 4:20 pm
  7. i spent 2 hours talking with an incredible homeless man tonight…

    he brought up this very thing:
    This person said, ironically, people in prison may be more free because they know they have no freedom. In school, there is the illusion of it.

    we talked about many kids in school, esp ones with 4.0’s being invisibly homeless.

    we’re trying so hard to figure out how to get better at stuff.. we should just unleash the kids..

    Posted by monika hardy | November 22, 2010, 3:10 am
  8. Someone a little similar came up today for me at a leadership coaching seminar where the prsentaer challenged us with why American schools seem to want heros as leaders which we tend to tear down [tall poppies] preferring vision orientated, driven and ethical collaborators as leaders [my description].
    I too wonder about my perspective -it it really that bad- coming from a working class family and currently working in a public primary school in a “well off area”.
    Mark Walker

    Posted by markwalker | November 24, 2010, 8:48 am
  9. Hey Mark, I’m not sure I understand your comment, and want to. Can you say more?

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | December 2, 2010, 5:15 pm


  1. Pingback: links for 2010-11-20 | MYAM's Blog - November 20, 2010

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