#73 – Power in School with Rob Fried

So it’s a new month, and that means a new theme for our conversations, and it’s a theme I’ve been looking forward to diving into, namely “power” and the ways in which power relationships basically define the schools we’re in. Power is not something we often talk explicitly about in schools. It’s a complex dynamic that is a part of almost everything we do, and it has a huge impact on any efforts we are making to change the experience of school for kids. And we are thinking about it…I mean how many times have you heard people talking about “empowering” students or teachers, which ironically is something we wouldn’t need to do if we didn’t disempower them in the first place.

And the way power works in the world is changing as well. As individuals gain more and more ability and agency to create and share ideas and make connections, they are finding ways to influence what happens in the world in good and bad ways, right? I don’t know if you saw a recent study from Common Sense Media that found 54% of teens get news from social media, and “Of those teens, six in 10 say they are more likely to get it from celebrities, influencers, and personalities rather than from news organizations utilizing the platform.”

And that’s just one example.

So, this month, the idea is to peel back some of the layers of power and look at what really happens in the interactions we have in schools, and to start that conversation, I got a chance to talk to Rob Fried, the author of several books, most notably The Game of School: Why We All Play It, How it Hurts Kids, and What It Will Take to Change It. And, importantly for me at least, Rob was the editor of The Skeptical Visionary: A Seymour Sarason Educational Reader. Those of you that hang around here for even a short while know that Sarason is one of my biggest influences and that his view of the world and particularly of power in schools is foundational to our work at Modern Learners.

In this conversation with Rob, we talk about how teachers and students can work with existing power dynamics, the difficulties of change because of power, and how we can recover our personal sense of power that schools in many ways take away.

As always, if you enjoy the conversation, why not head over to iTunes and give us a review and a rating? And tell your friends about our podcast as well. Thanks for listening everyone!

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Will Richardson

Co-founder of Modernlearners.com and Change School. Author, speaker, instigator, surfcaster, husband, and father to two amazing young adults.

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