Hey Friends! Excited to share with you some thoughts from our friend Angie, who spent an amazing 2 weeks in India last summer:
As the first few weeks of the school year draw to a close, I’ve been chewing on some thoughts about education–more specifically who, and how we choose to educate.
I teach reading and math at an inclusive school, where students with disabilities learn alongside their non-disabled peers. Inclusion is a U-turn from traditional practice, where students with disabilities would learn separately, in a “special” class or school. Yes, there are disruptions, things go wrong, and yes, it is hard work. But every one of my students benefits from learning in a community that has not been artificially sorted and segregated by academic ability. My students learn not only reading and math, but kindness, friendship, and how to care for others instead of competing with them. Without their classmates, all of them, my students would miss out on so much.
Thousands of miles across the globe in India, Dalit children, like my students with disabilities, have often been held up to the measuring stick of societal worth and fallen short. And Indian students of all castes are losing something valuable every year that they are forced to learn separately. When Dalit children go to school, children of all castes learn that no matter what family you were born into, work can be done, games can be played, and meals can be eaten-life can be lived!-together and in peace.Divided children become divided adults, and great minds are left uneducated, friendships are left unformed, and real justice never takes hold.
In one of my favorite books on education, “Widening the Circle” by Mara Sapon-Shevin, the author asks “What world will we create by the education we provide?” What world are we creating, friends? Is it a world where all people are considered valuable and worthy of life, education, and justice?
I support Dalit education because I want Dalit children to have access to education, opportunities, and an escape from poverty and injustice. But I also support Dalit education because I love India, and I believe that including Dalit children in schools is building a better future for all of India.