The Conversation Circle Series is an opportunity for Park School faculty and staff to come together and discuss a current event related to diversity, equity and inclusion. These topics tend to be the ones that are “trending” on social media or in the news, and these conversation circles allow us some time and space to talk about these issues face to face.
Born out of the frustration that there simply is not enough time in the day to talk about important and relevant current events, this group gathers from 2:05pm-2:25pm (the time between dismissal and the start of faculty meetings) on Tuesdays in rotating rooms. It’s amazing what you can discuss in 20 minutes!
#Mizzou #Yale #BlackLivesMatter
Around the country, students in colleges and universities are raising awareness through protests, marches, sit-ins, and confrontation of administration demanding that their institutions pay attention to the lack of racial diversity in leadership, curriculum, representation and culture on campuses. Though our students at Park School are still years away from enrolling in colleges and universities, the activism and dialogue around race and education is central to their own education at Park School. On Tuesday, November 23rd, faculty and staff gathered for a Conversation Circle to discuss what their own college/university experience was around issues of race and how we might use our agency as educators to a) shape a more responsive Park School community and b) to engage our students to be leaders in understanding race.
Some of us shared that this experience that today’s students are protesting are the same – or similar – to what was occurring when many of us were in school. Today’s racial climate is calling for more responsive leaders in higher education, many of them White, to serve as allies to communities of color. But, more importantly, today’s higher education climate requires that leaders understand the racialized experiences that marginalize students of color on historically White college and university campuses.
What are the demands of student activists? The demands are simply to provide equity in the educational process. Students are asking for more faculty of color in classrooms, more leaders of color in key positions, and a curriculum that reflects the diverse contributions of people of color in this country. They are asking that people who work in higher education be culturally aware and culturally responsive — through trainings, workshops, and evaluations, staff and faculty in colleges and universities should know how to work with racially diverse communities.
What does this mean for Park School? The culture and climate of education — whether it is in higher education, secondary or elementary — is that we must be responsible for educating and preparing our students for a globally dependent society. We must teach students how to think critically about a diverse world around them and how to engage in meaningful, respectful, and mutually responsive ways. At Park, we do this by engaging in conversations daily — not just in single workshops — about cultural identifiers such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, class and we make sure these conversations happen both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. We work closely with parents and caring adults to support messages of inclusion both at school and at home. And, we shape our policies and practices to support an inclusive community.
A key component of being responsive is to never believe we have it perfectly right. In fact, a responsive education is one that reflects the changing needs of a developing community.
Diversity is who we are. Equity is what we strive to provide. Inclusion is how we get there.
Peace and Park,