Stephanie Knox Steiner, interviewed several Springhouse staff last year for her dissertation, “Decolonial, Pluriversal, Vitality-Centered Pedagogies:(Re)orienting Education Toward Serving Life” Below is just a small section of her deep and meaningful work that includes an interview with H Leopold, Vitality-Centered Education Lead at Springhouse. Learn more about Stephanie at https://stephanieknoxsteiner.com/.
For Springhouse, centering life has led them on a path toward decolonizing education and collective liberation work. As a predominantly white institution located in the US South, this has meant a lot of looking at and grappling with white privilege and racism and what this means with respect to centering vitality and decolonization. H Leopold, the Vitality-Centered Education Lead, asked,
“What does it mean to be white? What does it mean to be in a school where we are mostly white? And what does that mean in terms of education and decolonization and collective liberation? All of those questions infuse my work. Now, it’s a broader question of looking at [education] through the lens of, ‘How is this in service to our vision?’ and our vision to me is one in which our culture is decolonized, really.”
Examples of how these questions have been infused into Springhouses’s curriculum and course offerings include: Learning with the Land, which focuses on Indigenous perspectives of their local place and Indigenous histories of the United States; Death and Indigeneity, which looked at topics such as ancestry, genocide, and relationship to place; and decolonizing the math curriculum.
H described their approach to decolonizing the math curriculum in the following way:
“I think about our math exploration, this past school year, that involved a lot of my own research around the history of math in this country, in particular, how that has been really influenced by patriarchy, by capitalism, and how we’ve approached math through that colonizing kind of lens—using it as a tool in that way—and how that’s really squeezed the life out of it. And the exploration was really about, ‘How do we infuse life back into mathematics?’”
Their process of infusing life into the curriculum involves reintegrating indigenous and other marginalized perspectives, as well as looking critically at the way traditional subjects like math have been taught through a colonized lens in mainstream formal schooling.