Bill Ayers

Reimagining Education
with Bill Ayers

Classroom. What is the image that comes to mind? Even for those of us who’ve spent time in alternative educational settings, we often still go back to our high school: rows of desks; a teacher standing in the front. There might be a bell that rings at a precise time indicating that it is time to move into the next box. It seems that this model for education is so woven into our consciousness that it is hard to even imagine the alternative; indeed, it is so embedded in our culture that it is the model for the world we create.

Before we can think about an alternative to this system, we should ask some important questions about education. What does it mean to be an educated human being? During what experiences have you learned the most? What are the core values and metaphors upon which our schools have been built? Where does power reside in such a system? Whom does it benefit? What is the world we want our students to create?

The ultimate goal, of course, is not to make a better school. It is to make more compassionate, just, and sustainable communities. In this episode, we explore how we might reimagine education for “justice and joy” – and to create just and vibrant learning communities even at the margins. For it is from there that we may have the most to learn.

Guest Bio

William Ayers, formerly Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the Bank Street College of Education, Bennington College, and Teachers College, Columbia University. Ayers has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education, the cultural contexts of schooling, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. He is a former vice-president of the curriculum division of the American Educational Research Association.

His articles have appeared in many journals including the Harvard Educational Review, Teachers College Record, Rethinking Schools, Educational Leadership, and the Cambridge Journal of Education.

His books include Demand the Impossible!; Teaching with Conscience in an Imperfect World; Teaching Toward Freedom; A Kind and Just Parent; Teaching the Personal and the Political; Fugitive Days; Public Enemy; To Teach: The Journey, in Comics (with Ryan Alexander-Tanner); Teaching the Taboo (with Rick Ayers); Race Course (with Bernardine Dohrn); and, most recently, “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones,” and Other Myths About Teachers (with Crystal Laura and Rick Ayers).