Education is liberation

We arrived in Denver yesterday and were thrown right into the reality of the Five Points neighborhood. We started at the Blair-Caldwell African American library located in the Five Points neighborhood. Just standing outside we were surrounded by visual and audio cues of gentrification: construction of new housing. This was our first introduction to the area and as external of an impression as it was, it give immediate insight into the surroundings.

We went deeper. Before arriving we read about some of the history of the Five Points neighborhood where we were. We participated in a form of mindful walking through the community. Mindful walking is a way of gathering information and insight through walking around (Jung, 2010). We were relatively informal with our mindful walking but followed a “walking tour” brochure that our teacher distributed. We looked. We walked. We talked. We observed.

At the far end of the Five Points walking tour, we stopped to meet with Candi CdeBaca – the director of Project VOYCE. Project VOYCE is an organization that was started to help support youth voice in education policy. One of the things that stuck with me the most that Candi said was “education is liberation”. She explained how today, our education system is simply schooling. The curiosity and desire to question, which students enter the classroom with, is shut down. Compliance and obedience are cultivated. Education today needs to empower students. True education needs to give students the confidence that they have a voice in this world!

It was nice to talk to Candi because she was so open about her views and was willing to be challenged. She wanted us to ask questions and talk openly. She told us that her some of her views were controversial and she confidently shared them with us. In her opinion, the charter school movement is one of gentrification.

What is gentrification? The word is relatively new but the concept has been around forever. As Candi said, “the best way to erase a group of people is to first erase their culture.” Gentrification does this. It is a modern form of colonization that pushes out lower-income families as more affluent families move in and attempt to renew the area.

Today we visited Omar D. Blair Charter School and listened to some different opinions on charter schools. I am excited to see more charter schools as the weeks go on…




CR 2/19/16



Jung, Yuha. (2014). Mindful walking: The serendipitous journey of community-based ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry 20(5), 621-27.



5 thoughts on “Education is liberation

  1. Chloe,

    I’ll be interested to see how your thinking continues as we see more models of charter schools. Prior to this experience, my only exposure to charter schools was through Pikes Peak Prep. It’s nice to learn a little more about what goes into drafting a charter and the intentions behind different schools, and how the admin actually goes about approaching those goals. To me, it seems like charter schools are trying to change the status quo in education. Hopefully, they’re providing another opportunity, another choice, another approach. But it also seems like community reception of charter schools has mostly been manifest as gentrification, as another form of segregation, as another limited opportunity. Hopefully this experience will pave the way for us to be aware and critical of the intentions of spaces we enter, and also give us a chance to think of ways to challenge attempts at exclusion.



  2. Chloe- I enjoyed reading your reflections on the 5 points and Project Voyce experience. I also appreciated Candi’s articulation of gentrification as analogous to colonization. It’s nice to be able to talk with open minded people that don’t have to be ‘right’ for the sake of being right and are willing to engage in true dialogue. I can’ wait to hear how the rest of the Denver experience enhances your learning.


  3. I like how you incorporated the mindful walking part into your blog. I think walking around the Five Points area was beneficial to us. It was our first look at how the area is changing. Observing our surroundings allowed us to see how the area is changing. Change in the neighborhood runs parallel with changes in the schools. As the neighborhoods change the schools do as well. But is this change necessarily good? Do you think gentrification will positively or negatively affect the future of the schools?



  4. Education should be liberating. I love the points that you drew from Candi that the education system today is simply schooling students instead of educating them. Imagine a school system where we really did empower out students and let them be educated about challenging issues. The education system should let students speak out and have a voice. Imagine the ideas that could be cultivated if we let students share their voices instead of shutting them down.


  5. Gentrification is a modern day form of colonization. So true. The process of erasing away cultures in the Five Points neighborhood is unfolding in front of our eyes. Our walking tour definitely made it clear what is happening to the physical environment, but our talk with Candi added a human element to this discussion. I like that you mention her speaking of education as liberation. What do you think liberation looks like for students? Do you think it is possible to liberate minds using the educational system we currently have set in place? Does liberation equate to innovation? I like your insight about mindful walking. We should all be mindful of the spaces we occupy and how to be observant and responsive to these learning environments. Great thoughts!


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