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Summary

Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award

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 make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.

To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom - not merely reform - teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist. Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.

©2019 Bettina Love (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“A useful rejoinder, half a century on, to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed; deserving of a broad audience among teachers and educational policymakers.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Through unflinching and daring inquiry, Dr. Bettina Love has stepped out on faith to articulate our pain, suffering, and eternal search for joy. Her words resurrect the abolitionist credo of ‘education’ over ‘school.’ Because they are two different things, the question remains: can school be the place where education happens or do we need to radically rethink what we’re doing? Dr. Love’s work suggests that if we do not choose the latter, we are complicit in our own demise.” (David Stovall, professor of African American studies and criminology, law, and justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, and co-author of Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools

“This much-needed book is at once personal, analytic, poetic, exacting, and soaring. Dr. Bettina Love brilliantly weaves, in artisanal and scholarly fashion, the threads and fabric of history, the present, and the possible future. She weaves in a way that we are invited to understand what moving past survival means, in personal, communal, and nation-building ways. This book is a call to building a different future: one made for freedom.” (Leigh Patel, author of Decolonizing Educational Research)

What listeners say about We Want to Do More Than Survive

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A love letter to the world of freedom in education

I liked it all especially the need and urgent gap on teachers training in cultures. There is a line at the very beginning that grabbed my attention to why this matters: ". . .to remind you how worthless human being you are".

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  • loving purple
  • 17-08-20

Must read for all parents and educators

I would have preferred this to have been read by Dr. Love but I got over that. I kept stopping the book to take notes. This may be one hat is better in hard copy. A must read. As a 20 year veteran educator, there were lots of new concepts that I hadn’t thought about. Should be included in all teacher-trainer programs.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi
  • 14-05-21

Had potential...

This book is certainly speaking about an important message. My primary complaint is that I do not think that it is written in a manner that either 1) gives people already knowledgeable in the area new information, or 2) eases newcomers to the topic. The author seemed to provide details where I needed none in some places, while staying high level and/or making unsubstantiated claims in other places where details would have strengthen the argument. While I found myself getting emotional and resonating with certain parts of the book, I was ultimately confused with whom the intended audience was.

At best this book could do well in a book club-type setting where people who otherwise do not interact with each other can have a reason to gather around and talk about some important issues of this world. Incidentally, a book club is exactly why I read this book in the first place. But as someone who has read So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo, I would rather be doing a book club on that book.

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  • Mel
  • 09-07-20

necessary read for 2020

it might take some time to digest, but this is a necessary read for 2020

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  • NWFScienceHamm
  • 30-05-19

If I could go back in time

I wish I’d had this book, this teacher, this eye and mind opening words fill my preservice education-if I could go back and recraft my undergrad and grad courses. I can’t go back, so going forward I will strive be an abolitionist teacher-friend-community member-colleague. Thank you Dr. Love.

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  • Kerwin Thomas
  • 14-07-22

Everything is racist

This book is just a rant that blames everything bad in education on whiteness and racism. You can acknowledge the legacy of racism in America without absolving people of personal responsibility. This author's answer for everything is racism. No tangible solutions are given for what needs to be done to fix schools.

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  • Zom-B
  • 30-06-22

good voice meh on educational

it was a good voice you can hear her passion but the book is too much for me I geuss cause it sounds too violent to me the way she wants people to fight and yet the book is about love sounds like a bad relationship

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-06-22

Absolutely Amazing

This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. As an educator, this touched me on another level.

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  • jwo
  • 19-04-22

Great book on abolition

I enjoyed this book. Good overview. I expected it would be more focused on the educational system. It included that but also focused on how every other aspect of life impact a child’s learning.

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  • Terrance Lane
  • 29-11-21

Rethinking education

Bettina Love offers a lens in which we can improve education for all. It’s time to consider the whole child, which includes their culture and mental well-being. I highly recommend this book for all educators.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-21

Good Book But No Clear Takeaway

I think the author presented some interesting points that are not often discussed. For example, how Brown vs. Board of Education might have created an adverse effect of its intent. The ruling was supposed to make public schools equitable but now we have a situation where schools allow for integration but socioeconomic status determines the resources provided. That has negatively impacted schools in lower income communities. Ms. Love argues that before the 1954 ruling, schools were segregated but they were equal. This is one of many examples she brought up that was thought provoking. That said, it was unclear what the author’s intent was from the book. It appeared to be solely focused on how the black community and minorities have been disenfranchised by American institutions in the guise of “whiteness.” I was disappointed she didn’t offer any tangible solutions on the path forward and so status quo is maintained.