I had the opportunity to recently attend the Transforming Race Conference sponsored by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. The conference was attended by social justice researchers, activists and practitioners from across different social sectors (e.g. – education, health, housing, criminal justice). As a school reformer and activist, it was refreshing to engage in honest dialogue that extended beyond progressive school reformers.
This conference had a particular focus on structural racism that provided me an opportunity to consider the problem of how we can be more strategic in our commitment to interrupt and transform public education. I was particularly interested in the connection between race, racism and systems thinking. Systems thinking is one of the conceptual lenses that BayCES uses to help in our understanding of the problem that we are trying to solve. Systems thinking recognizes that part of the explanation for inequitable racialized outcomes can be found in the organization and dynamics of systems themselves, and not simply in actions of individual parts.
I attended sessions which the utility of systems thinking was clearly on display. For example, I attended a workshop entitled Understanding Change: An Introduction to System Dynamics for Racial Justice. This workshop provided the opportunity to engage in systems-modeling skill-building exercises grounded in specific issues of racial justice and social justice. The workshop uses System Dynamics as a specific method and way of thinking about systems that places the emphasis on identifying and understanding feedback mechanisms and system states to provide insight into how structure influences behavior. It was exciting to explore methodology that I would not normally consider in my practice as a coach for educational equity.
Well that is all I have time for now. More to come.