The Radical Imaginations of Our Children Should Be Nurtured

Attention all movement-makers! The time is ripe for radical social change and the new book from educator and activist Bill Ayers is sure to inspire you. Demand the Impossible! explores alternatives to today’s endless war, environmental destruction and economic crisis, and suggests strategies for building a more peaceful world. Click here to order this book from Truthout today!

The following is an excerpt from Demand the Impossible! by Bill Ayers:

In 1963 Charlie Cobb, a young field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), wrote a brief proposal to create a number of Freedom Schools throughout Mississippi in order to revitalize the civil rights and community organizing work there. While the Black youth of the South, he argued, were denied many things — decent school facilities, honest and forward-looking curricula, fully qualified teachers — the fundamental injury was “a complete absence of academic freedom and students [that] are forced to live in an environment that is geared to squashing intellectual curiosity, and different thinking.” He called the classrooms of Mississippi “intellectual wastelands,” and he challenged himself and others “to fill an intellectual and creative vacuum in the lives of young Negro Mississippi, and to get them to articulate their own desires, demands and questions.”Their own desires, their own demands, and their own questions — for African Americans living in semi-feudal bondage and the afterlife of slavery, managed and contained through a system of law and custom as well as outright terror, this was a revolutionary proposal indeed, a giant leap of the radical imagination, and at the same time so completely characteristic of the Black freedom movement.

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner were all SNCC volunteers engaged in the Freedom Schools. They had been investigating the arson bombing of a church that hosted one of the schools when they were arrested and jailed in June 1964; they were released into the dark of night, and then kidnapped and brutally lynched near Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan, with the police acting as enablers and partners. The revolutionary meaning of the Freedom Schools wasn’t lost on the rulers of Mississippi — their power and potential was understood well by the barbarians and their terrorist enforcers.

Our radical imaginations are tenacious — they doggedly refuse to go quietly into that dark, dark night.

The world-shaking significance of the Freedom Schools — their prospects, legacy, and cost — should not be lost on us either. Let’s begin by reiterating Charlie Cobb’s premise for today: focusing on the young folks who’ve been written off and marginalized by the powerful and mainstream society. They are the descendants of formerly enslaved people or recent immigrants from poor countries or First Nations people. They’re from working-class families — people who survive by selling their labor power, and even then frequently in the informal economy. They’ve attended schools of poverty, and many have participated in a sort of general strike and run away from those schools. They have endured institutions — not only schools but police and courts, hospitals, La Migra — that routinely refuse to recognize them, disregarding their humanity and denying their full personhood.

Now to restate Charlie Cobb’s topic sentence: the youth of South Central LA or Detroit or Philadelphia or New Orleans or the West Side of Chicago are denied many things — decent school facilities, honest and forward-looking curricula, fully qualified teachers to work with them — but the fundamental injury is a complete absence of academic freedom. Students are “forced to live in an environment that is geared to squashing intellectual curiosity and different thinking.” What would it mean and how would it look if they were to mobilize themselves in order to articulate their own desires, their own demands and dreams, and their own questions? I think the world would crack open — as it did in Mississippi — and in the best possible way.

This is because our radical imaginations are tenacious — they doggedly refuse to go quietly into that dark, dark night. When significant numbers of people are encouraged to pursue their curiosity and passion — when another world seems not only desirable to a large enough group but also possible — the status quo becomes suddenly unbearable, and revolution is in the air.

Black people in Mississippi knew that the Jim Crow system was unjust and cruel for a century; they’d suffered its lash and stood up where they could. They’d expressed their agency and resisted their oppression in a thousand clandestine ways — foot-dragging, absenteeism, sabotage — when they lacked the luxury of open politics. We admire the many overt refusals to go along — there were thousands of acts of open defiance to Jim Crow rules, on trains and on public buses, for example, that continually pushed the limits of what was possible and helped set the stage for that iconic action taken by Rosa Parks in 1956.

In the Mississippi Freedom Schools, student experiences and student insights were a driving force.

When a large enough group identified an obstacle to their humanity and chose to storm that impediment and overcome that barrier, when they collectively got the notion in their minds, for example, that if they risked registering to vote (a life-and-death proposition, an invitation to beatings and chain gangs) a more just world could be pried open for them and their children, and indeed for their entire community, the risk was taken, the battle engaged, and a wall was breached, releasing an irresistible tide — a revolution. There is no sound so sweet as the sound of chains that had held folks back for so long falling noisily to the ground. And it’s still true: Once we can reimagine and resist in significant numbers, we will rise again, reaching for new heights and setting better foundations for living and loving, for building a new world.

The Mississippi Freedom School curriculum was organized around questions: Why are you and I in the freedom movement? What do we hope to accomplish? What would we like to change? The whole idea was to summon folks to name the circumstances of their own lives, to encourage them to a serious consideration of how those circumstances might be changed, and to invite them into space of authentic democracy and participatory action.

What do we hope to accomplish? What will help us realize our deepest dreams and desires? In what ways is education liberating, and it what ways can schooling be entangling and oppressive? Can learning be cast as a creative act, enjoyable and social, or is it always framed as competitive and brutal?

What does it mean to be an educated person? What does it mean to be free? Awakened to fundamental and forbidden questions, a new world of possibilities heaves into view.

In the Mississippi Freedom Schools, student experiences and student insights were a driving force in all the matters students and teachers inquired into and all the projects they undertook. Education was linked to life. No longer an abstraction, education became a vital matter of organizing and community empowerment. The main pedagogical gesture in Freedom Schools was dialogue — speaking with the possibility of being heard, and listening with the expectation of being transformed in some large or small measure. They offered experiences with dialogue, experiments in associative living, exercises in learning to live together, and a rich culture of recognition combined with a profound compassion for one another and our shared world.

I remember a class during which Stokely Carmichael wrote pairs of sentences on the board next to each other: “I digs wine” and “I enjoy cocktails”; “I be’s unhappy” and “I am dissatisfied.” He provoked a propulsive conversation about the power of language as a means of communication as well as a signifier of social position. The students walked away conscious of the codes of power and some of the invisible threads of oppression, and also with a stronger sense of their own capacity to name and change the world.

Students and teachers were set up to learn from the world, not about it; from fish and farming, construction and carpentry, gardening, history, and quantum mechanics — not simply about them. Freedom School classes studied voting patterns, property values, and health problems in the community. One class conducted a countywide survey of land ownership and made a chart tracing patterns of wealth transfer back to slavery. All of the classes were organized around learning by doing: interrogating, acting, producing, inquiring, and participating. No longer a set of anemic destinations, learning went deeper and traveled farther. And most important, students developed confidence in themselves as creators and meaning-makers in an infinite universe, not simply consumers of a static and unjust world.

***

The obsessions that characterize too many classrooms today — especially urban classrooms and schools attended by the poor — are simple: the goals are obedience, standardization, and conformity; the watchword is control. These schools are characterized by passivity and fatalism and infused with anti-intellectualism, dishonesty, and irrelevance. They turn on the familiar technologies of constraint — ID cards, uniform dress codes and regulations, surveillance cameras, armed guards, metal detectors, random searches — and the elaborate schemes for managing the fearsome, potentially unruly mob. The knotted system of rules, the exhaustive machinery of schedules, clocks, and surveillance, the unaesthetic physical spaces and the prison architecture, the laborious programs of regulating, indoctrinating, inspecting, disciplining, censuring, correcting, counting, appraising, assessing and judging, testing and grading — all of it makes these places feel like institutions of punishment rather than sites of enlightenment and liberation, places to recover from rather than experiences to carry forward.

The curriculum is flattened and lifeless in these spaces: in 2006 Florida passed the Florida Education Omnibus Bill, for example, stipulating that “American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable.” The bill called for an emphasis on the “teaching of facts.” Facts and only facts — without any frivolous or messy interpretations — would be permitted to enter the schoolhouse. Facts and only facts would be allowed to guide instruction about, for example, the “period of discovery.” Whose facts, exactly, I wondered? The facts of a Genoan adventurer in the pay of Spanish royalty, the facts of the “discovered” themselves with their complex stories of tribal rivalries, resistance, and accommodation, the facts of the First Nations residents overwhelmed, murdered, and enslaved, or possibly a range of other facts and angles of regard altogether? The Florida lawmakers went with the first choice, legislating in effect a pep rally for Christopher Columbus — yes, their own particular constructed explanation and analysis of events and circumstances passing as fact. It’s deeply bizarre and mindlessly pinheaded, but it’s a fact: In Florida the legislators banished debate and dialogue, independent inquiry and firsthand research, the right to think for oneself in a hurried scramble to paint a prettified picture of freedom and democracy in the name of fact.

***

I watched a history teacher in a South Side Chicago school offer a standard lesson on the legendary 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which reversed Plessy v. Ferguson and ended racial segregation in the United States. The classroom was made up of twenty-four African American students and seven Latino/a students. The lesson was pointedly directed toward illustrating our great upward path as a nation. A student who had appeared to me to be paying no attention at all spoke up rather suddenly, smiling broadly as he addressed the teacher: “So you’re saying this class here is against the law? We’re breaking the law here, right? Can I call the cops?” Everyone cracked up, but the disruptive student was pointing to an obvious contradiction: here was a segregated classroom in a segregated school in a country that had outlawed school segregation decades ago.

It doesn’t take perceptive young people any time at all to sniff out the duplicity and the dirty-dealing approach in the nothing-but-the-facts agenda, and to conclude that all schools lie. Teachers lie. Parents lie. In fact the whole edifice of adult society is a complete phony, a tangled fraud sailing smoothly along on a sea of silence. Many students submit to the empire of deception, concluding that it’s simply the price of the ticket: you wink at the massive hoax and promise to keep quiet and go along, and you’ll pick up your reward by and by. Many other students go in the opposite direction: Their insights lead them to insurgent actions and gestures and styles, all matter-of-fact performances of self-affirmation, and hard-nosed refusals of complicity — flat-out rejections of a world that is determinedly disinterested in their aspirations and perceptions and insights.

As young people in New Orleans or South Central LA or Oakland or Philadelphia or Cleveland or many points in between discover and intensify their own sense of agency, they can start to see themselves as actors in the world and not merely adjuncts in society. Schools would be organized around an ardent faith in human agency — in individual as well as collective capacity. They would work to align themselves to children and youth in their infinite and dynamic diversity, as opposed to forcing the child to fit the school as if school were immutable and fixed in stone. Schools would embrace the truth that learning is the identical twin of living, that to be alive is to learn and to learn is to be alive.

The most fundamental human need/desire/demand is clear: I shall create!

No longer objects — instructed by people who tell them where they may or may not go, when they may or may not speak, what propositions they may or may not cross-examine, which books they may or may not read, when they may or may not use the bathroom, what time they may or may not eat, what materials they may or may not study — young people begin to question the nature of the schooling they’re required to attend. In interrogating the real conditions of their lives they step out of subjugation and into history as subjects themselves. They realize as free and full human beings that they are inherently (and not contingently) valuable, that both they and the world they inherit are works in progress and still under construction, that as humans they are paradoxically completely unique and simultaneously the same as all others — we are all born into a human culture, we all experience pain, we all die — and finally that they don’t need anyone’s permission to interrogate the world.

They ask questions, all kinds of fundamental questions reaching out in every direction: why? Who decides? Who benefits and who suffers? Is it just? What are the alternatives? The act of questioning itself is understood by the wardens of the status quo as a challenge. The guardians are not wrong: To the oppressed and exploited, the status quo is itself an act of violence. It must be resisted, and questioning the circumstances of your life is a way to begin. To the wardens, the resistance must be quelled. The conflict is on.

The demands of youth will be heard above the roar: “I shall create,” says the juvenile delinquent in Gwendolyn Brooks’s masterful poem “Boy Breaking Glass,” “If not a note, a hole / If not an overture, a desecration.” The most fundamental human need/desire/demand is clear: I shall create!

***

The system dehumanizes everyone. Here is William Deresiewicz’s description of the children of the privileged and the entitled: “These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different … Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

When school is geared to the absorption of facts, learning becomes exclusively and exhaustively selfish.

A different fate awaits the less privileged: They are asked to submit to boredom and irrelevance like other students, and, further, some are required to endure racist behavior and daily humiliation, while others are rendered invisible by the institution and its managers as the price of the ticket. Their humanity is openly unacceptable, and they must prove their worth through abject compliance day in and day out. Privileged kids may see submission to a little monotony and irrelevance as a cost that will one day turn to an advantage for them — and they aren’t wrong; other kids have ample evidence — an aunt, a neighbor, a cousin — that even should they submit and acquiesce and surrender, even if they reach for that highly touted diploma, there will be little or no payoff for them.

When the aim of education is the reproduction of all the social relations as they are now, schooling is nothing more than locating oneself on the grand pyramid of winners and losers. When school is geared to the absorption of facts, learning becomes exclusively and exhaustively selfish, and there is no obvious social motive for it. The measure of success is competitive — people are turned against one another, and every difference becomes a score for somebody and a deficit for someone else. Getting ahead of others is the primary goal in such places, and mutual assistance, which can be so entirely natural in other human affairs, is severely restricted or banned.

On the other hand, where questioning, studying, researching, and undertaking active work in the community is the order of the day, helping others is not a form of charity, an act that, intentionally or not, impoverishes both recipient and benefactor. Rather, a spirit of open communication, interchange, and analysis is an expression of love and becomes commonplace. In these places there is a certain natural disorder, some anarchy and chaos, as there is in any busy workshop. But there is also a sense of joy, and a deeper discipline at work, the discipline of getting things done and learning with one another and through life. We see clearly in these cases that education at its best is always generative — in a way that training, for example, never can be — and that offering knowledge and learning and education to others diminishes nothing for oneself.

In Freedom Schools students become conscious of themselves as authors of their own scripts, stars in their own dramas, sculptors of their own identities. They resist the objectification they suffered in society or in the miserable boot camps they knew as “school.” They engage in naming the circumstances of their lives, holding hands and identifying obstacles to their full humanity and the humanity of others, and planning ways to collectively assault those obstacles.

In schools where teachers and students have their minds set on freedom, folks are encouraged and empowered to name and explain themselves, to describe their situations and their pathways, to bring their own wisdom and experience into the room, to wonder what’s next and to act on whatever the known demands. Human agency finds its rightful place at the center of the educational experience.

***

Education is a fundamental and universal human right: something every child deserves simply by being born, a moral obligation of the community, a phenomenon resting on the twin pillars of enlightenment and liberation, and principally directed to the fullest development of the human personality. That’s a starting point.

There is simply no justification in a democracy for schools dependent on local property taxes.

Education for free people is powered by a particularly precious and fragile ideal: Every human being is of infinite and incalculable value, each a work in progress and a force in motion, each a unique intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, moral, and creative force, each of us born equal in dignity and rights, each endowed with reason and conscience and agency, each deserving a dedicated place in a community of solidarity as well as a vital sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, recognition and respect. Embracing that basic ethic and spirit, people recognize that the fullest development of each individual — given the tremendous range of ability and the delicious stew of race, ethnicity, points of origin, and background — is the necessary condition for the full development of the entire community, and, conversely, that the fullest development of all is essential for the full development of each.

This has obvious implications for educational policy: racial segregation is wrong, class separation unjust, disparate funding immoral, relentless privatization an assault on the commons and the community. There is simply no justification in a democracy for schools dependent on local property taxes, or for the existence of one school for wealthy white kids funded to the tune of $50,000 per student per year and another school with access to less than $5,000 per student per year. That reality offends the very idea that each person is equal in value and regard, and reflects instead the reactionary idea that some of us are more deserving and more valuable than others. It also expresses a simple but crude and cruel message to young people: Choose the right parents! If you choose parents with money, access, social connection, currency, and privilege, your chances will expand; if not, sorry, but social policy favors the comfortable — you’re on your own.

Free teachers and free students refuse obedience and conformity in favor of liberating dispositions of mind.

A common faith in the incalculable value of each human being has big implications for curriculum and teaching as well, for what is taught and how: Freedom lovers want students to be able to think for themselves, to make judgments based on evidence and argument, to develop minds of their own, and most of all, to become free people themselves, capable of participating fully in the world as it is, and, if they choose, transforming all that they find before them in order to create a new and better world.

Schools for obedience and conformity are characterized by passivity and fatalism and infused with anti-intellectualism and irrelevance. They turn on the little technologies for control and normalization — the elaborate schemes for managing the mob, the knotted system of rules and discipline, the exhaustive machinery of schedules and clocks and surveillance, the laborious programs of sorting the crowd into winners and losers through testing and punishing, grading, assessing, and judging, all of it adding up to a familiar cave, an intricately constructed hierarchy — everyone in a designated place and a place for everyone. In these schools, knowing and accepting one’s pigeonhole on the towering and barren cliff becomes the only lesson one really needs.

Free people, including free teachers and free students, refuse obedience and conformity in favor of liberating dispositions of mind: initiative, questioning, courage, audacity, imagination, creativity, inventiveness, and empathy. These qualities cannot be delivered in top-down ways, but must be modeled and nourished, encouraged and defended, and mostly practiced again and again and again.

Free students are major actors in constructing their own educations, not simply objects of a regime of discipline and punish; they demand that education become decoupled from the inadequate and illegitimate “meritocracy model,” and that the public good become understood more fundamentally. Instead of schooling-as-credentialing, sorting, gate-keeping, and controlling, education for freedom enables all students to become smarter and more aware, more capable of negotiating our shared and complex world, more able to work effectively in community and across communities. This requires courage — from teachers, families, communities, and students — to build alternative and insurgent classrooms and schools and community spaces focused on that we know we need rather than what we are told we must endure.

Educators who are oriented toward liberation and enlightenment as living forces and powerful aspirations focus their efforts, then, not on the production of things but on the production of fully developed human beings who are capable of controlling and transforming their own lives; citizens and residents who see themselves as valued and valuable, a sovereign part of the whole, participating actively in public life; people who can open their eyes and awaken themselves and others as they think and act ethically in a complex and ever-changing world. This kind of teaching encourages students to develop the capacity to constantly interrogate the world and the courage to act upon whatever the known demands. Education, then, is transformed from rote boredom and endlessly alienating routines into something that is eye-popping and mind-blowing — always opening doors and opening minds and opening hearts as students forge their own pathways into a wider world.

***

When education is posited as a product like a car or a refrigerator, a box of bolts or a screwdriver — something bought and sold in the marketplace like any other commodity — and schools are conceived as businesses run by CEOs with teachers taking the role of assembly-line workers and students playing the part of the raw materials bumping helplessly along the factory floor as information is incrementally stuffed into their little upturned heads, then it’s rather easy to suppose that “downsizing” the least productive units, “outsourcing” and privatizing a space that once belonged to the public is a natural event. It seems logical in that universe to transform proof of learning into a simple standardized metric where state-administered (but privately developed and quite profitable) tests determine the “outcomes” and act as a rational proxy for learning; where centrally controlled “standards” for curricula and teaching are made commonsensical; where “zero tolerance” for student misbehavior is a stand-in for child development or justice; and where “accountability,” that is, a range of sanctions on students, teachers, and schools — but never on lawmakers, foundations, or corporations — is transformed into something logical and level-headed. This is in fact what a range of corporate bosses, their noisy politicians, and chattering pundits in the bought media call “school reform.”

The forces fighting to create this new commonsense, school reform normal are led by a merry band of billionaires — Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Sam Walton, Eli Broad — who work relentlessly to take up all the available space, preaching, persuading, and promoting, always spreading around liberal amounts of cash to underline their fundamental points: dismantle public schools, crush the teachers’ unions, test and punish.

What if this school/classroom/experience were for me, or for my child? Are these the schools a free people require? This is a clarifying starting point for discussion: If it’s not okay to cut the arts or sports programs, the clubs or libraries or science labs for your child — or for the children of privilege — how can it be okay for the children of the poor? If you want teachers for your kids who are thoughtful, caring, compassionate professionals — well rested and well paid, completely capable of making clear and smart judgments in complex situations — how can you advocate for teachers who are little more than mindless clerks for the children on the other side of town? If your school doesn’t face the constant threat of budget cuts and schedule changes, why should other schools and educators live in that tumultuous and disruptive environment? We should be highly skeptical of reformers — whether Gates or Bloomberg or Bush or Obama — who claim to know what’s best for other people’s children when it would be unacceptable for them or for their precious ones. This kind of test can be easily applied.

***

Teachers, like their students, are in transition, in motion, works in progress. In the Freedom School tradition, teachers become students of our students, in part to understand them, in part to know ourselves. A powerful reason to teach has always been to learn ourselves, and no one captures this more beautifully than Paulo Freire: “Through dialogue the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student and students-teachers. The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.”

Truthout Progressive Pick


Bill Ayers - Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto

Imagine a world beyond what the system would have us believe is possible.

Click here now to get the book!


This challenges the manufactured image of good teachers as child-savers and lone heroes heavily promoted by the corporate gang and reflected in films and newspapers. My favorite parody of this whole mess is a short piece from MADtv available on YouTube called “Nice White Lady.” It opens as a camera hovers over an urban landscape and the narrator intones: “Inner-city high schools are a dangerous place …” The camera enters a classroom where kids of color are lounging at their desks cleaning their firearms and sharpening their knives. The narrator again: “Only one thing can help these kids learn … a nice white lady.” A young, fresh-faced woman appears and announces, “My name is Amy Little; I’m a white lady.” The kids sneer and jeer, and later, one young woman is right up in the teacher’s face with maximum urban attitude. She growls as she rattles off why her life is difficult and how she won’t be inspired by the white lady teacher. Amy is at first taken aback, but then a light bulb goes off, and she hands the student a notebook with the command: “Write that down!” Soon everyone is writing and winning literary awards, trading their guns for pencils, and the narrator concludes, “When it comes to teaching inner-city minorities, you don’t need books and you don’t need rules. … All you need is a nice white lady.”

Recognizing the full humanity of every person is an essential part of resisting corporate school reform. The teacher notes that every human being has a unique and complex set of circumstances that makes his or her life understandable and sensible, bearable or unbearable. Each student is the one and only, and, paradoxically, each is the one of many. This recognition asks teachers and schools to reject any action that treats anyone as an object, any gesture that thing-ifies human beings. It demands that we embrace the humanity of all students and that we take their side.

To imagine schools as they could be or should be, schools that embody and express love, joy, and justice, is to dream of a world fit for all. It’s to resist the dystopian metaphor of education as a market in favor of education as a basic right.

It’s to unite parents and children, teachers and community members in a gigantic organizing and mobilizing effort to rebuild and expand the commons and the public spaces of education; to abolish privately developed high-stakes standardized tests in public schools, and to cease and desist from valorizing test scores as a proxy for either intelligence, worth, or achievement as we move toward authentic forms of assessment; to ban privately managed schools from receiving any public funds; to end the criminalization of youth and open alternative spaces for creative moral reflection and positive action, redemption, and recovery, whenever and wherever someone has made a mistake or wronged the community; to pay every public school teacher a salary comparable to the average pay of a US general; and to enact a massive initiative to bring parents, community characters, formerly incarcerated people, and unemployed folks into the schools as aides and teacher candidates, and to bring students, teachers, and other school people into communities as peers and colleagues, oral historians and arts innovators, coaches and team-builders. We come together, then, to release our radical imaginations in the service of a future world of enlightenment and freedom for all.

***

In 1967 at the age of fifty, with the rat-tat-tat of revolution in the air and an exuberant sense of change sweeping throughout the whole world, Gwendolyn Brooks — with several books of poetry, a novel, and a Pulitzer Prize under her belt — wrote of the grand rebirth of consciousness during the early days of the Black Arts Movement: “I who have ‘gone the gamut’ from an almost angry rejection of my dark skin … to a surprised queenhood in the new black sun — am qualified to enter at least the kindergarten of new consciousness now. New consciousness and trudge-toward-progress. I have hopes for myself.”

“New consciousness and trudge-toward-progress” — we’re reminded that it is only the urgency of youth that can set the pace and the tone of what is to come — of what is to be done — and still, in the grace and fullness of age we might learn to follow along, to enter at least the kindergarten of the new. Because I have hopes for my students and my young friends. Because I have ambitions for my children and my grandchildren, I also have hopes for myself.

Copyright (2016) by Bill Ayers. Not to be reposted without permission of Haymarket Books.