If I am to be the first object of my own hope, I need to learn how to understand what exists and how to create something new from it. I have no choice but to act, but I have much to learn if my actions are to be productive. This is a solidification of my commitment to fundamental change, an expression of my integrity. I want to be a student again.

In my application to complete a four-year degree at a school for returning adults in 1993

I’ve been active in movements to overcome exclusion and violence — from domestic violence and violence against women to racism, colonialism, imperialism and war — for thirty years. To become a better change maker, I went back to school. And to continue becoming a better learner, I still study change.

I think of change as a thing. There are theories of change, and change processes, for different kinds of change. We talk about social movements and social change, technological developments and technical change. Each of us as individuals changes in various ways. One can study systems change, and World Systems Analysis is about world-system change. Change functions in our culture and in the history of any one part of it – whether it be the corner I live on or my beliefs about how to have a healthy diet.

The love I’ve received, trauma and drama I’ve endured, my race and class privilege, my gender and my queer lens all play significant roles in who I am now and what I can bring to the learning that lies ahead.

Whether in a classroom, workshop, group or individual process, the learning we do together would be, yes, about acquiring new information, skills and tools. And my aspiration is that, in the process of that learning, we are able to overcome whatever kept you, me, or us from acquiring that information in the past, and transforming those histories, participating as consciously as possible in the changes before us.

The better learners we are, the more able we are to function productively amidst the multiple, profound and protracted changes that shape our lives – and to participate ever-more effectively in shaping them.

There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes “the practice of freedom,” the means by which [people] deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

Richard Shaull, In the introduction to Pedagogy of the Oppressed