Decolonial Thought: Coloniality & Its TK-12 Educational Impact
Critically aware of potential internal, uncontrolled, and non-intended resistance, the goal of this brief literary construct is to advance the enigma and need for a generative understanding of the urban student condition through the lens of coloniality, or as some scholars coined the epochs, modernity.
A question must be asked, analyzed, and the dialogic of such used to guide educational practices for urban students and districts today because of historic mental and physical dehumanization, colonialism/colonization, domestic and international holocausts, genocide, slavery, maafa, war, and misogyny. Thus the question(s): 1) In the face coloniality and its Eurocentric exercise, what lingering impact does it have on K-12 students, their families, and entrusted district leadership which includes every adult within the system given the charge of educating students? 2) At what point (and what will be the evidence) will public K-12 centers initiate a process and pedagogical system, strategy, and intervention, deconstructing coloniality, crisply identifying the overtly and covertly ill-affected? Such a paradigm investigates and inserts a critical panacea for the core malady, through social justice and critical consciousness opposing solutionary treatment of surface symptoms. As stated in Latin American Literature and Culture “By this I mean that modernity/coloniality is an imperial package that, of necessity, generates decolonial thinking and action. But actions by themselves cannot be decolonial if they are not conceptualized as such” (Castro-Klaren, 2008, p.17). Successful student, campus, and community transformation through education requires brave target/subject identification, the refusal of such passively promotes the illusion of progress while factually institutionalizing the ills of colonial remains.
Public education stands as a responsible institution of teaching and learning, entrusted with the burden of catapulting students to levels of academic transcendence, critically inclusive of social, psychological, linguistic, and humanistic development (Elements not always accepted as part of the educational politic and responsibility). Based upon the aforementioned premise and the two literary inquiries, clear systems and approaches must be implemented that travel beyond ones failure to address the tenets of the problem because of discomfort with the conversation. As districts reposition their psyche to address underperformance of state identified subgroups, blame, guilt, and denial represent a form of kryptonite that cripple attempts of transformation. The approach from all stakeholders in the business of education in urban settings, sometimes rendering adults as surrogate everything, creates its synergistic genesis from a base of empowerment, support, equity, cultural relevance, safe risk taking through dialogue, acknowledgement, and celebration.
Intellectualism, paideia and their impartation to students, especially students of color and of various forms of the diasporic, are at the core of this condition and approach. From scholarship antiquity such as Aristotelian and Socratic thought to Diop’s anthropological writings regarding civilization or barbarism, critiques have been applied to conventional and historical complexities, including coloniality. Thus the condition of urban public school underperformance must be observed and questioned through the lens of coloniality and its impact. Again, noting that it is absent a model of blame, creating offensiveness and paralysis to any effort of transformation.
The urban and inner city dynamic in public education with rhythms (not music, but the vibration and tone of student movement and esoteric language) influenced by a blend of their indigenous culture and hip-hop swag, constitute new patterns of student thought and consciousness, often misdiagnosed. Nationally it is a sweeping educational dynamic that strikes student and educator. In the past it has been critically investigated by professors, anthropologists, psychologists, and researchers, but the academicians in the trench have been engulfed by the pace and crisis orientation, that scholarship regarding this issue has left the building, leaving schools districts to claw their way out of SAIT, Program Improvement, and State takeovers. As this occurs, because of what feels like an overwhelming burden, we become spectator, not to providing instruction, but to the process of decolonialism, generating the intangibles; procedures to eradicate lingering traits of coloniality.
As public education shifted drastically in the US regarding diversity, especially in the Bay Area, a holistic critique of coloniality has been the missing agent and the one ingredient not thoroughly addressed. On the surface it has proven to generate discomfort, with a few willing to be sacrificial. Under such an ideological position, students unconsciously suffer, followed by the community at large after our systems fail to create a platform for transcendence, caught in a conundrum of deficit analysis of the condition. The challenge is to engulf ourselves in the research and literary arguments that generate transformation and scaffold the same information to our students for the purpose of self-generated educational accountability.