“Could you slow down–my English is good but not so good,” said a blonde woman from Germany (if I remember correctly).
In a way, this woman pointing out my greatest public speaking flaw, (and the way the audience agreed with her) let me know that what we’re doing in Detroit with education is a simple yet innovative and engaging type of work.
In March, Jenny Lee, co-director of Allied Media Projects, and I presented at the International Democratic Education Conference in Caguas, Puerto Rico. We presented the work of Detroit Future Schools. In DFS, we partner digital media artists with classroom teachers for the purpose of reimagining the practice of education as a process of preparing creators and citizens of a just, creative and collaborative world.
We presented a few pieces of student created media that demonstrate the meta-analysis of classroom practices and content by students–third grade through high school–and media pieces that analyze community problems or immigrant identities. We presented the context of Detroit that birthed the need for this type of empowering pedagogy that puts the tools of production in the hands of youth. We shared our metrics and tools for documentation and evaluation and highlighted how these tools are meant to be used by teachers, artists and students alike democratizing the process of evaluation in the classroom.
Our presentation provided five days worth of conversation starters for Jenny and myself and we couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities to exchange ideas and philosophies on democratic education with brilliant, committed people from all over the world.
In fact, this was the best thing about this conference–the two-way exchange of transformative educational work happening all over the world. There wasn’t a conversation that Jenny and I engaged in that didn’t teach us something new about our work or the potential for this work to truly prioritize social justice in all educational contexts.