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Valuing Difference: A Conversation About Liberatory Education

July 7, 2022

By: Kate Westrich

It’s time to shift from equity to liberation.

Our newest forecast, Imagining Liberatory Education Futures, states that simply making our current education systems more equitable would mean providing learners with the supports and means to succeed in a system that resists change. It would place undue burden on learners, especially those learners who come from historically marginalized yet resilient communities or who do not identify as part of White-dominant culture, to navigate a rigid system whose underlying structures are oppressive

Liberatory education – what it is and why we need it – was the focus of a recently recorded conversation between Katie King, director of strategic foresight engagement at KnowledgeWorks, Maria Crabtree, senior manager of strategic foresight at KnowledgeWorks, and political and organizational development strategist Rapheal Randall.

Randall was previously the executive director of Youth United for Change (YUC), an organization dedicated to developing young leaders in Philadelphia and empowering them to improve the quality of education. He was able to draw on his experience at YUC to speak about liberatory education and its potential to influence inequality and how we look at difference.

Might we ever experience a world without inequality?

Randall encouraged a reframing of the idea by separating notions of difference and inequality. “Concretely, we know that we all have these differences… Instead of trying to pretend that everybody’s the same, let’s be clear we’re not,” said Randall. “But how do we actually wrestle with that in a way that makes us even more human?”

He focused on an asset-based, human-centered approach, where difference does not equal inequality, as it often does today. “How do we ensure that we consider these differences and build a society that encapsulates those differences in its foundations?” he asked. “We can begin to create spaces where differences, whether they be biological, whether they be geographical, whatever, will no longer impede people’s ability to be whole, fully realized human beings.”

A human-centered vision for teaching and learning places the healthy development, well-being and creative potential of all people at the center of learning systems. Learn more in Envisioning Human-Centered Learning Systems.

Respecting and valuing difference is one focus of Imagining Liberatory Education Futures, where authors explore the extent to which societies have social cohesion as a critical uncertainty facing us and our futures. In a highly cohesive community, “differences can be seen as an asset, really, like the fact that we are different makes us better,” said Crabtree.

Watch the recorded conversation to hear more about liberatory education:

Liberatory Education: What is it and why do we need it?

Unlock your imagination and explore a liberatory future of education.


Kate Westrich
Vice President of Marketing and Communications

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