Exploring Educational Equity From Theory to Practical Application

How could equity within education transform our futures?

The Care Work podcast this season explored educational equity by sharing the expertise of three people doing tremendous work in this area: Debra Giunta talked about creating social education that helps teens consider their futures from a lens of what they are interested in and excel at; Johnnie Campbell discussed making higher education a place where young adults can explore their dreams in a danger-free space; and Ken Bigger explored a future where we expand our understanding of literacy.

So many shared threads run through these episodes, all of them aimed at making educational spaces—for kids and adults alike—safer, inclusive, and impactful.

An inclusive definition of educational equity

“Educational equity means each child receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential.”

This is how the National Equity Project defines this multifaceted term. The organization goes on to identify some specific outcomes that should be the goal for any educational equity endeavor:

  • ensure that every participant can achieve optimal outcomes
  • eradicate assumptions around success or failure that correlate with social or cultural factors
  • remove biased behaviors that block the creation of true multicultural environments

Johnnie’s pursuit of anti-deficit learning and spaces that provide the freedom to dream, Debra’s dedication to honoring the dignity of every learner, and Ken’s integration of literacies beyond reading and writing all agree with and add even more nuance to this definition.

Realizing the goals of equitable education

The concept of educational equity is promising and exciting, but the practical application of its edicts is a challenge that this season’s experts engage with every day.  

One practice that needs to return to the fore is rest. Programs like recess, physical education, and free periods have become optional in many school systems, relegated to being slotted in only once each point on the academic curriculum has been checked off. However, the concerning burnout statistics of the past few years have taught us that rest periods are important not only for better mental health but also for improved learning and retention. As Tricia Hersey writes in her book Rest is Resistance, removing this component of education also removes the opportunity for “space, connection, and slowing down”.

Retention and true learning—as opposed to mass memorization—seem to have themselves fallen to the wayside in the current educational system. It is often made clear that quantity matters over quality and students’ ability to digest and think critically about the information they learn. 

The role of teachers in educational equity

Successful adaptive and responsive teaching requires teachers who center these concepts in their classrooms.

There is no question that today’s educators are underpaid, undervalued, and overextended. If governments can address this, and if policies can move away from the one-size-fits-all perspective of standardized tests and Industrial Age course design, teachers can finally have their own space to slow down and reevaluate classroom procedures

This aspect is vital because educational equity will only truly take hold if teachers are trained, and granted the time, to consider and administer curriculum objectives from the perspective of each individual child.

In this reflection episode, Alida dives deep into the significance and application of educational equity as championed by this season’s guests. She also explores some of the ideas that could complicate the widespread adoption of new learning models if they are not addressed and consolidated. Educational equity is highly pertinent to our contemporary communities of care, so make sure to tune in to the insightful conclusion of this episode arc. 

Are you interested in reading more stories like this one?

Subscribe to my personal newsletter!