Reflection from Kaneesha Johnson

Having overcome the hurdles of the first week, it has been sweet relief to enter our stride in the second. Not only have I gotten to know the Sunflower students academic capabilities and interests, the conversations that we stumbled upon by chance have been some of the most interesting of the class, and have forced all of us to challenge some of our long standing beliefs and values. Many of the themes from those discussions have resurfaced and are becoming threads for how we understand crime and punishment.

Some things have proven much more difficult than I had anticipated; there is a significant range in ages and abilities, and each student has particular strengths and weaknesses that have required me to modify my expectations and approach to teaching the course.

Perhaps the biggest shock has been recognizing how smart my students are, but understanding that the barriers that are put in front of them to receive quality, or even basic, education gives them such a massive disadvantage to reach their academic potential.

The Freedom Project is an incredible space, and it is full of inspirational individuals, but it has been difficult coming to terms with the fact that the failure of public education has placed this massive burden on these projects, and that there are so many incredible students falling through the cracks.

Emily Gowen