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Reflection on the Advent Collaborative

28 Nov Reflection on the Advent Collaborative

Advent is pleased to share this thoughtful reflection on the recent Collaborative. The author attended the event on Saturday, October 15 for professional development. The attendee has graciously agreed to share his thoughts, in the form of an email to his colleagues, with our community.

Dear Colleagues,

This past Saturday, a small group of colleagues and I attended The Advent School’s Collaborative: Change the World. The Advent School is an independent school in Boston that integrates a commitment to social justice with a child-led approach to education. We participated in discussions on civil rights history, listened to varied presentations on incorporating social justice into curricula, and attended classroom visits.  Witnessing how an organization purposefully thinks about and incorporates social justice into their culture and work is inspiring.It proves that we as a company can one day live out our new vision statement for racial equity.

I believe we can draw two major lessons from the presentations by Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Advent faculty:

  1. It’s important to talk about race. There are large groups of people who think that if we stop talking about race, then society will naturally become more inclusive. This viewpoint has a particularly powerful impact on educators, potentially creating the expectation that they must remain neutral and shy away from having difficult discussions in the classroom about topics like race, gender, and identity – topics that children experience every day. We may feel similar pressure in our own work and in interactions with colleagues. But race and elements of social difference infuse politics. It’s important and empowering to talk about who you are, who’s in our community, and who our target beneficiaries are. A part of that conversation must include race. These conversations are hard, especially when we feel that we are ill-equipped to engage. We must seek out opportunities to listen, talk, and learn if we are going to grow more fully into our vision. Lecia Brooks said that one easy way to access these conversations is to tell stories about oneself and make observations about the world. Use these actions as an entry point to encourage others to share their story and improve everyone’s understanding.
  2. In order for there to be progress in this resurgence of civil rights activism, our youth need to be educated through a lens of racial equity and social justice. Historically and in the present day, the youth are going to be the ones pushing the needle for progress. The Civil Rights Movement was spearheaded by youth: Dr. King led the Montgomery bus boycott when he was 26, while John Lewis was only 23 when he became a chairman of SNCC. Drawing inspiration from their achievements, we as a company might benefit from empowering our young staff to continue improving our joint organizational culture. I believe the challenge for our young staff is to seek ways to be purposeful and active in helping us progress, while the challenge for our leadership is to engage with and listen to those coming up through the ranks.

As we mentioned in our company meeting last week, we are just at the beginning of a journey. While we continue to grow collectively, we must all refuse to be complacent or inactive with our convictions. Let us seek to live out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s proclamation: “We are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

MLK Quote

The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.