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We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom
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We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

4.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,710 ratings  ·  355 reviews
Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.

Drawing on her life's work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to mak
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Beacon Press
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Average rating 4.59  · 
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 ·  2,710 ratings  ·  355 reviews

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Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books you read fast because you can't take in information fast enough. This book is one you read slow because every morsel of information is big and powerful and makes you think.

All educators should read this. I wish I could take a class with her.
Elizabeth Langa
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every educator should read this book. Period.
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one goes in the “Required Texts” section of my Autumn 2019 syllabus.
Zachari Curtis
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
"See me after class."

While I'm in no position to actually call the author in, there were several times while I was reading where I wanted to highlight the paradoxes she seemed to be creating by collapsing rather than wrestling with the complexities of the interlocking theories she prescribes to abolitionists. The book initially is very engaging but, perhaps in an effort to cover ground and provide historical or cultural context to anchor her stories, it devolves into a rushed list of historical
Maya McKenzie
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-work
Should be MANDATORY reading for all educators
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
I wanted to like this book. We need more discussion about the systemic ways in which the various intersecting systems of American life contribute to poverty and oppression of POC, driven by racism rooted in White privilege. Unfortunately, this book does not fill that purpose well enough for me to pass it on to my friends who need to be introduced to Critical Race Theory in a non-technical setting.

I came here hoping this book would do for education what Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow gave
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I sponged up every word in MORE THAN SURVIVE; it spoke deeply and directly to the kind of teacher I try to be, to the kind of teaching I believe in. Love's antiracist analysis struck every right chord: her theorizing of the "educational survival complex;" critique of the no-excuses “gimmicks” of "grit" and "zest;" and ultimate framework for abolitionist teaching, built on mattering, freedom-dreaming, solidarity, and resistance.

The snag for me: it felt in some ways like only half a book—all theor
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK!! Bringing the spirit and work of abolitionists to education! Education in the pursuit of liberation! YOU. MUST. READ!
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Abolitionist Teaching" is what Bettina Love says we need more of in our schools and, as a mother, I couldn't agree more with her analysis: Racism is not exclusive to one political party or a particular type of White person. White, well-meaning, liberal teachers can be racist too.

From that point, Love lays out where it all went, and continues to go, wrong. However, she also offers a solution as to how we can make a difference--as educators, parents, activists, politicians, etc.--in the lives of
Becky R.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a white teacher in a very white school, I've desperately been seeking ways to challenge my own bias, my own culturally taught racism, my own bigotry. This is a systemic problem, and it had to start with me looking at myself. I have an MA in ethnic literature and spent an entire higher educational career challenging norms and reading about experiences outside my own. But now as a professional, how do I pass on this personal journey to my own students? How do I challenge them, without pushing w ...more
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pedagogy, justice-lit
If you serve, teach, raise, make policy for, are related to, live next to, go to school with, or know Black and Brown children in any capacity, you need to read this book. Required reading for all.
Mileena Cannella
Every educator, whether you teach BIPOC students or not, needs to read this book. I'd actually recommend owning it so you can reread it every time you need to check your privilege or lend it to someone who seriously needs to.

One of the criticisms of a book with "Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom" in its title is that Love doesn't necessarily offer real teaching/pedagogical practices for educators. I'd argue otherwise. You'll quickly discover in this book that abolition
I finally finished. My copy has lots of underlined sentences and paragraphs. Reading this book has helped me understand one of the more pressing explanations behind the 'slump' I feel right now: I'm not working or have enough contact with Black teachers who are ready or willing to be abolitionist teachers.

It's too risky. Their (perceived) place in the hierarchy is at stake. They aren't ready to not be included or praised.

I need to be surrounded and motivated by abolitionist teachers. This book l
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent essay in the injustices put upon African Americans in the past and currently. Very direct and to the point. Bettina L. Love comes from Rochester NY where I’m from so I identified with what she said about Rochester. Once a thriving city in many ways, it has become a city with a huge concentration of poverty. Heartbreakingly so. Important book.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After saying this morning that I wanted to get back to this book this week (I started it in August, set it down halfway through since I wasn’t finished by the Bookclub date, and then basically lost it on my coffee table 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️), I wound up finishing it tonight, while listening to George Winston and having 90s college flashbacks.
This book is fantastic. Certainly a must-read for teachers. At least I have a clear vision of what / who I want to be for my students even if I’m still ge
Faith Rush
So much to process and apply from this book. I imagine I will reread it in the future, as I’m sure I will get more and more out of it every time I read it.
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As everyone has stated in their reviews, every educator should read this book. I especially like the idea of being a co-conspirator versus being an ally. Almost every page had an idea that I had to stop and reflect on. This book challenges and encourages. I will continue to reference for many years to come. Also, H2P!
Maitland Gray
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I felt dissatisfied when I finished this book until I came to the realization that this book is best for educators. When I started it, I was hoping to learn what the author thinks needs to happen in order to transform education. But that's a different kind of book. This book's emphasis is on recognizing the influence of racism (mostly focusing on education). It's more of a primer book to awaken the ideas that motivate you to pursue these topics further. I'd definitely like to continue learning m ...more
Love is from Rochester, New York and uses a lot of the statistics and educational angles in the context of the Rochester system which is in my home state and as an educator, with a friend in Rochester, and working in Albany that is frequently discussed with other "big city" urban schools such as Rochester this had special significance.

If you read professional texts, most of the information she presents as foundation for continuing ed for teachers and/or education for new teachers is not too but
Every educator (but particularly white educators) should read this book. It's revolutionary and easily one of the best books for educators that I have in a long time. I kept pausing to highlight and re-reread passages. Dr. Bettina Love voices and synthesizes so many issues in teaching that I haven't been able to articulate myself. It felt like an exhale when I finally saw the words on the page. As a non-Black POC/educator, I found this to be an incredible resource and one that I want every educa ...more
Frances Starn
Oct 05, 2020 rated it liked it
There’s a lot of important work in this book and there are sections that really spoken to me. However, While it focuses on providing the national context for the need for abolitionist teaching, it fails to truly provide a framework of what abolitionist teaching looks like. For me, it too often falls on listing and references proving the need for abolitionist teaching without providing any meat on how abolitionist teaching can be operationalized.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The historical stories of so many impactful individuals were inspiring, and so were the specific sections on freedom dreaming and using art to express dreams about what life can be with no limits for our kids! Abolitionist teaching revolves around joy and embracing the whole child for all of their identity - linguistic, familial, aspirational, social, navigational, and resistance.
Steph Landry
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fantastic and important read. One of the best professional texts I've read in years. Dr. Love's work has had a profound impact on my orientation as a teacher and has helped me build my understanding of abolitionist teaching. Also, while the book is geared towards educators, I think it is accessible for folks in other fields and is a great text for anyone wanting to deepen their understanding of the broader abolitionist movement. ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is one I will return to. Challenging and encouraging and a hard read. Love cuts to the heart of the issues with being a white educator teaching dark children, and in doing so, lays bare the racism at the root of so many classroom practices. I need to ruminate and reread.
Lindsay Vlasak
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is not just for educators, it’s for everyone. Read it to learn, to grow and for inspiration in the fight against racism and the fight for abolitionist teaching.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Summary: A plea and argument for abolitionist teaching that advocates for educational justice in our schools, that understands and is in solidarity with the struggle people of color face in our often racialized schools, and affirms the goodness and joy of one's ethnic, sexual, and gendered identity.

This book is an impassioned argument for "abolitionist teaching." The writer, educational theorist Bettina L. Love, offers this definition:

"Abolitionist teaching is the practice of working in solidari
Terry Jess
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is everything. If you are an aspiring antiracist educator, you will find equal parts validation and challenge. This is the book we need, and abolitionist teaching is where we must head. Thank you Dr. Love!
Zoe's Human
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In We Want to Do More Than Survive, Bettina Love, a lifelong educator, paints a clear picture of the systemic nature of racism in our educational system. She examines the role of for-profit organizations in undermining true learning and the role of whiteness, including that of well-intended white folks, in killing the spirits of children. She persuasively argues that there is another way forward, a way that not only makes room for black students to breathe and thrive but also creates paths and p ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I’ve been reading a series of really wonderful books recently on anti-racism and culturally relevant pedagogy. This, unfortunately, isn’t wonderful. It is chock full of unsubstantiated claims like “character education is anti-black.” I’m not honestly a fan of character education either, but she doesn’t give any reasoning for her claim. In this book, pretty much everything is racially motivated. We in the US have an enduring problem with systemic racism, but absolute unsupported paranoia isn’t th ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you!

I feel like I missed something in this book. The writing was serviceable, but not memorable. The autobiographical bits were interesting to learn a bit about the author, but I wanted more on education. There was more memoir and more general race theory than I expected, and less concrete focus on the education system. I recognize that it is challenging to disentangle from a lot of other aspects, but the discussion was too surface level. It ne
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