For a few years now I have been on a “break” from my anti-human trafficking work at Women Against Slavery. It was my passion, and it was hard to acknowledge that I was burnt out. Daily exposure to the horrors of human trafficking, combined with my innate sensitivity and capacity for empathy had worn me down, and left me without anything left for myself or my family. I decided to change the focus of my research. Slavey takes many forms, from the interpersonal exploitation of the domestic worker, to the institutionalized slavery of governments. I had always sought, like Thoreau, to “hack at the roots of evil.” To do so, I decided to view slavery as one side of the coin, with the other side being freedom. Why were some members of vulnerable groups able to avoid exploitation? For example, poor, urban, African-American girls without a father in the home are vulnerable to exploitation. But not all people who meet that description become enslaved. In fact, most people don’t. Why not? Is there some sort of innoculation for trafficking? An individual shield, as opposed to the institutional work of legislation and law enforcement?
I’m an educator. I approached human trafficking as an issue that needed to be educated on. My premise was that if people were informed on the issue, they would change their habits, their perspectives, and ultimately, the world. Seven years ago when I began educating on the issue of human trafficking and women, advertising, consumption, and other related issues, human trafficking was still a foreign word to most in America. That is not the case any more. Groups and individuals have taken up the banner of freedom.
My next project is still one of education, but a different sort. I’m a home educator, teaching my children outside of a traditional school system. They learn about truth and beauty through nature, poetry, art, and music- so that they will never tolerate lies and ugliness. They learn love through their relationships with friends and family, and identify with others through literature and history. I hope this will inoculate them from hatred and ignoring the humanity of those different from themselves. We study science and mathematics to understand the universe and our place in it. I hope that they will always see understand themselves as beautiful and purposeful and will seek to meaning and giving of themselves.
Once we learn to read, we will forever be free.- Frederick Douglass, born into slavery, liberated himself.
It is through education that we grow, and become more fully ourselves. Only by doing so can we hope to be truly free, no matter what the outside circumstances may dictate. A person in chains may be more free in their heart and mind than a king, fettered by no outside power.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.- Henry David Thoreau
In this blog, I am going to explore what this philosophy of education towards freedom means, and what it looks like practically. I will review books and ideas, examine curriculum and document our own process as a family. Our experience may help others as they explore how to grow, or as they put together educational experiences for others.
Please understand that this blog is a process, and I want to be open to where it goes. It is not an end result. I may change my mind. I may contradict myself. I am experimenting with what I think. It’s scary, but it’s important. You are welcome to read along.