By Sarah Lahm, Minneapolis parent
People get ready…Act for Education is coming. This group, forming now in Minneapolis, is dedicated to the idea that education must be about something more than basic facts and literacy skills. While the Act for Education mission statement is still being written, it will focus around empowering teachers, elevating the role of art and storytelling in education, and fighting against the narrowing of curriculum, standards, and practices that are a constant presence in contemporary public education.
The founding members of Act for Education are Maria Asp and Tessa Flynn, who are teaching artists from the Children’s Theater, elementary school teachers Julie Sabo and Nati Osland, and Curriculum and Instruction PhD candidate Shannon McManimon. Using their theater, education, and advocacy backgrounds, this group plans to use humor, street theater, and improv to get people to stop and think about education. Getting people to laugh about where some current education policies may lead is key, according to Act for Education, and will be accomplished through visuals such as zombie students marching towards just one future path.
Another key component of Act for Education’s mission is to draw attention to the “Critical Literacy” approach to education. Critical Literacy is focused on teaching children to critically interpret works that they study in school through a social justice and personal empowerment lens. This means children will learn to ask questions about the curriculum and texts put in front of them, such as who wrote the text (or tests) and what, if any, culturally biased assumptions are embedded in a text. The goal is to train students to recognize the power relationships that maintain the status quo within a school system. The concern of Act for Education is that, with all of the standardization of curriculum and measurement today, students are not getting the perspective a program like Critical Literacy offers. For more information about this approach to education, look here: Critical Literacy Explained.
Act for Education is still forming, but they have a blog up and running. Look for it here: Act for Education. Hopefully, we will soon be able to see where and when we can catch the “righteous indignation” of this group!