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L Cubed's picture

Access, Agency, Knowledge, Power

A couple of words/phrases stood out to me in the last class: “access”, “agency”, and “knowledge is power”. In thinking about theses words and how they pertain to education, I couldn’t ignore the fact that they are deeply interconnected. If access and agency are two things that are dependent on capital then “knowledge is power” is relative- intentionally, in my opinion.  The fact that society defines knowledge and education so heavily in the context of schooling is no coincidence to me. Like someone stated in the last class, the purpose of education is to reestablish social norms and to maintain and feed into the existing societal structure…its to keep the people at the bottom at the bottom and visa versa, to separate the “have” from the “have nots”. Without access there is very little agency in obtaining the education (as defined by society) needed to reach the top, wherever that might be.

This summer I worked with students from Public Schools, all facing adversity of various forms. In speaking with them about school and college as well as witnessing how they approached their participation in the program, it was evident that one of the main issues was their lack of information and understanding- their lack of knowledge. They simply did not know and were not aware of certain things which had a huge impact on their current circumstances. These things include, but are not limited to, the existence and access to magnet public high schools, the existence of millions of scholarships, information regarding AP courses, facts about the college application process and college in general, and how to dress and act appropriately during an internship.  As some have mentioned, there are so many factors such as lack of resources, unhelpful and disengaged faculty, and discrimination that contribute to their lack of knowledge and therefore lack of "power". But as some have wondered, what is this power?

I agree that knowledge is something that you can gain from outside the context of schooling and in some sense I think that the most meaningful knowledge is one gained outside of the traditional classroom. But does society value that knowledge? My instinctive answer is no, but does it matter?




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