Book Review: Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education
Title: Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education (2021)
Author: Alex Shevrin Venet
Themes: Equity, Strength and Asset Based Lens, Trauma Informed Practices, Student Identity and Lived experiences, Relationships, Healing
This is an important book that is a foundational read for all stakeholders who are invested and committed to an equity-centered and trauma informed education. After the multiple Islamophobic attacks reported in the media this past summer, it is safe to say most Muslims have been impacted and are experiencing some form of trauma. Schools should be places that are knowledgeable on the trauma students might be experiencing, and aware to not traumatize or retraumatize students further within the school setting.
This is an important book that helps educators consider how to move from theory to praxis in relation to equity-centered trauma-informed education. The author suggests six key principles of equity-centered trauma-informed education which are: Antiracist, Anti Oppression; Asset based; Systems Oriented; Human Centered; Universal and Proactive; and Social Justice Focused. These are explored in depth in the book.
One very powerful message this book sends is how often in dominant discourses, trauma informed education is focused on fixing or thinking about student behaviour. But when we critically consider equity-centered, trauma-informed education, the focus must be on the behaviour and actions of the adults in students' lives. This is an important and refreshing reminder that as educators it is important to deeply reflect on our practice and pedagogy because it impacts the experiences of our students in and outside of the school setting.
Another important point shared in this book is that we must collectively understand that students may bring trauma with them to school based on various situations and lived experiences, schools themselves can be also be sites where students are further traumatized. While school-based trauma may not be intentional, it does have a very real impact. It is paramount that we are critically thinking about our pedagogy and actions so that schools do not become unsafe spaces for students. Rather, by engaging and implementing equity-centered, trauma-informed education, we can individually and collectively ensure that schools are solely sites for healing. When we critically consider the sociopolitical state of our local, broader, and global communities, we learn that there is a lot of trauma that our students have either personally experienced or have come across in their communication with others. In all circumstances, students are looking to make sense of and heal from their experiences, and if schools are ensuring equity-centered, trauma-informed education then they can be sites where students feel encouraged to share and heal from these deep wounds.
It’s important to remember that this framework is beneficial for students who have experienced trauma, but all students can and do benefit from its implementation. When schools strive to be sites of healing and justice, they work to help students make sense of their often difficult experiences, and consider individual and systemic changes that need to happen to move forward collectively. This book teaches and models for us how to do this work and this is why it is a must-read.