Building Anti-Carceral Practices (Multi-Lesson Course)

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This multi-lesson course helps teachers familiarize themselves with the carceral network: the connection between school, prison, and society, offering strategies and systemic changes to name these systems and reimagine for change.

video overview

overview & purpose

"Political education isn’t just education about politics. It’s education for the specific purpose of making our politics more powerful. It is front line work. It is core to advancing our struggles, not the ‘extra’ activity we take up after the struggle is over or for recreation."

Rachel Herzing

This course helps teachers familiarize themselves with the carceral network. including creation a toolkit for abolition. Created by Dr. Damien Soyjoyner, Dr. Sabina Vaught, and Dr. Connie Wun.

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educator notes

Due to academic copyright, some materials are not available as public access. We have included these resources unlinked below.

These lessons are designed for teacher professional development. However, they could easily be converted and used for classroom use, especially in the humanities.

lesson / activity

Part 1: Stretch, Resonance, Resilience


  • "Abolition" by Sarah Haley & "Criminal" by Dylan Rodriguez
  • Introduction to "Resource Guide for Teaching and Learning Abolition" Critical Resistance (p. 1-3)
  • Keywords glossary, from Abolition for the People, edited Colin Kaepernick


How does this apply to your teaching experience?

“Challenge yourself to be curious, and to ask yourself and others productive questions with stretch, resonance, and resilience.”

from: Ruth Wilson Gilmore, pp. 37-38, “Forgotten Places and the Seeds of Grassroots Planning” in Charles R. Hale, Ed., Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship, University of California Press, 2008, pp. 31-61)

Stretch enables a question to reach further than the immediate object without bypassing its particularity—rather than merely asking a community, “Why do you want this development project?” one asks, “What is development?”

Resonance enables a question to support and model nonhierarchical collective action by producing a hum that, by inviting strong attention, elicits responses that do not necessarily adhere to already existing architectures of sense making. Ornette Coleman’s harmolodics exemplify how such a process makes participant and audience a single, but neither static nor closed, category (Rycenga 1992).

Resilience enables a question to be flexible rather than brittle, such that changing circumstances and surprising discoveries keep a project connected with its purpose rather than defeated by the unexpected. For example, the alleged relationship between contemporary prison expansion and slavery falls apart when the question describes slavery in terms of uncompensated labor because very few of the 2.2 million prisoners in the United States work for anybody while locked in cages. But the relationship remains provocatively stable when the question describes slavery in terms of social death and asks how and to what end a category of dehumanized humans is made from peculiar combinations of dishonor, alienation, and violent domination (Patterson 1982; Gordon 2006).

Part 2: Liberation



How does this apply to your teaching experience?

Part 3: Against Captivity


  • "Against captivity: Black girls and school discipline policies in the afterlife of slavery," Connie Wun


How does this apply to your teaching experience?

Part 4: Creating a Toolkit


  • "The disorientation of the teaching act: Abolition as pedagogical position," Dylan Rodriguez
  • Critical resistance reform v. abolition toolkit


Create your own toolkit:

  • After reviewing the Critical resistance reform v abolition toolkit. Familiarize yourself with its structure and format.
  • Make a copy for yourself and begin to fill out with pedagogical practices you might undertake, based on what you’ve learned over these four days.

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