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The Establishment

I wrote this poem when I was in high school, so some 50 years ago about the time I wrote Angry Young Poet. I updated both poems several years ago, but the underlying theme was evident in the orginals and I tried to keep that in mind in editing.

I found both poems as part of handwritten notes I dug through one weeked while Kathy was away. What struck me was how little things change. In fact, I might argue things are more entrenched than ever; the rich got richer and the poor poorer. One only has to consider the enormous wealth being accumlated by billionaires during the multiple crises we are experiencing.

Multiple crises, health, economic, and social justice, might give us room to re-imagine the world we want for our children and grandchildren. Instead, I am afraid we are more entrenched in our binary positions. Despite this, I hold out hope, not optimism and positivity, that we can begin the process of transforming the world to make it more democratic, socially just, and equitable. Part of my writing is revisiting an article I published in 2012 called Rocky River: Building a Learning Organization to re-imagine how we might educate children, youth, and adults. I begin re-imagining with a simple shift in language and call those engaged in teaching and learning educands a word Paulo Freire used in Pedagogy of Hope: Revisiting Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

More broadly, we can apply the learning organization’s principles to other institutions. Peter Senge cautioned it is hard work and takes time. Unlike other revolutionaries, Freire stated incremental change, based on dialogue between humans, was essential to transforming the world. Although Senge does not draw on Freire’s dialogic model, he suggests dialogue, with deep and caring listening, is at the heart of transforming institutions.

They know best for the rest–


Not transforming,

Recalling non-existent good old days.

In disagreeing–

Simply wrong-headedness,

Daring to rebel:

Who are we to question?

Having it made–

Hunting and gathering,

Material wealth signaling success,

Repress, suppress, oppress.

Depending them to know best.

Maintaining existing order,

Demanding blind loyalty,

Failing to practice what preach.

I re-worded the poem again. I see how little changed in 50 years. Without a picture, I thought of which blues musician might best convey my message. I immediately thought of Nina Simone, who sings with edge. When I play her songs for undergrads, those with backgrounds of privilege demonstrate a visible level of discomfort.



About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

31 responses »

  1. Beautifully put, very relevant for present times. I agree that the gulf between poor and rich is widening. I guess human vices such as greed, gluttony, envy… never changes. Time moves but our vices remain with in us. Brilliant work.

  2. Thanks for sharing Smile It is a great day


    On Thu, Jul 30, 2020 at 7:12 AM Teacher as Transformer wrote:

    > ivonprefontaine posted: “I wrote this poem when I was in high school, so > some 50 years ago about the time I wrote Angry Young Poet. I updated both > poems several years ago, but the underlying theme was evident in the > orginals and I tried to keep that in mind in editing. I found” >

  3. How do we stop what’s happening in America, when troops are on the ground beating people and tear gassing them? Those who are supposed to work for the people, protect the people re the enemy. Psychopaths are in the white house and there doesn’t seem to be anyway to bridge the widening gap that is ripping us in half. The guy who said, “May you live in interesting times,” might not have expected this. We want change, but as you can plainly see, the status quo, still greedy and power hungry, would rather shoot us. Makes it difficult to have intelligent conversations. I don’t know how it will end, no one does, not really. Still, many re putting their hopes on the November election. The fact that our government could allow him to stay in office, shows how broken our political system truly is. Tear gassing the mayor of Oregon, while he was answering questions in a gathering of people was just one more show of what the troops are really there to do. Taking people off the street and putting them into unmarked vans, no markings on the people or the vans, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, but no one seems to be able to do anything about what’s happening. I don’t get that. Apparently the American people have become terrorists in their own country, and our own troops are fighting a war against us when we are unarmed and peaceful. The insanity continues.

    • You ask a great question with no easy answer Gigi. I think the quick blurbs I got listening to the 4 tech bosses speaking did not instill hope. You are right. Too many are driven by greed and the vast majority of us are driven by a need to survive, unable to lift our heads long enough to realize how bad it has become. I wish my poem had only spoken about the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Sadly, that is not the case.

      I think what we need to do is reach out to each other and share what we hold in common. It is impossible to think those people with the greatest vested interests in the status quo will join us, but there are many who think we need to change something.

      I see a challenge in the next stage. We are losing our elder statespeople. Who replaces them?

      • That’s true. The replacements re a huge question mark. This will play itself out and we will be dragged along with it. None of the things we did before work any longer. Because no one cares. It doesn’t matter how big the crowds are, they would rather gas people than listen to them. So, it’s a wait and see game, right now.

      • Yes, we have lost our path to civil discourse. And, where it still exists it is the elders who practice it e.g. Cornel West and Robert George.

        I rethought my feelings about losing elder statespeople. Maybe it can be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others who take us forward.

  4. Pingback: The Establishment — Teacher as Transformer | THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON...

  5. I began this morning reading this post:

    I thought I’d like to write something about how it ties to my own thinking these days. Since there’s rarely time for writing on weekdays, these days, I’ve let it roll around my heart and mind.

    Somehow, what you’ve written ties right in to the words I’m trying to find. It might take some time to find them, but, boy. It’s a load off my heart finding yours tonight. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the link Deborah. I will take a few minutes to read and digest it. A quick glance seems to say most of us are so busy trying to survive we are not able to pay attention to what the “captains of industry” are doing. As they point out, this is not a new phenomenon.

  6. Way to round this out with Nina Simone… Especially that song. Nicely done!


  7. Amazing how basic principles haven’t changed in 50 years. You describe today’s world so well with what you were writing 50 years ago. Can you see 50 years into the future of what the world will be like in 2070?

    • I wish I could see into the future. I might be able to caution my grandchildren on what is coming. I don’t think we realize how much history repeats itself until we get into our later years.

  8. I’m impressed you had Nina Simone’s Mississippi GD yet saddened the impetus for her song still remains relevant.

  9. Very relevant, thank you. I particularly liked Nina Simone. I hadn’t heard that song before.

  10. Love Nina Simone. And yes, having lived through the sixties and forward, it can get discouraging, thinking we have merely slipped back 100 steps. But, like you, I remain hopeful. Cheers, Ivon.

  11. It’s good to know that your creative pieces of fifty years are still available and relevant.
    One funny truth about life is that no matter how different time makes things to look, something deep within us is still that old original us.
    Our hope and struggle is that we get better each new day.
    May every new day meet us better than the former left us.
    Lovely and inspiring post!


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