Dan Connelly

  • Dan ConnellyLilla Watson, a Murri artist and activist said “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” 

    My work is not about helping others. It’s about collective liberation. 

    I am grateful to have been raised by a single mother, aunts, cousins and grandparents in New York.  And I am grateful for my single father, grandmother, and friend’s families who helped me transition to life in Chicago when I had to move as a young child. 

    My work is not about individualism. It’s about community and interdependence.

    I spent a lot of my high school career in hallways, dean’s offices, and detention. The counseling department enrolled me in welding, auto CAD, and wood shop instead of AP classes. My family made plans for me to apprentice as an electrician after my high school graduation. Instead, I enrolled myself in a few courses at a nearby community college while working part-time to pay for them. A year later, I was accepted to Western Illinois University. It took me six years, but I am the first in my family to graduate from college. 

    My work is not about catering to careers or serving the economy. It’s about self-discovery and personal exploration.

    I began my teaching career on the southside of Chicago. It was during this time that it became very clear to me that there is no such thing as a neutral education process. As Paulo Freire has stated, “education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” 

    My work is not about assimilation or maintaining the status quo. It’s about resistance and transformation.

    I am inspired by the potential of public education. 

    I am invigorated by our potential to transform the systems and structures we’ve inherited. 

    I am optimistic about our potential to construct a future that includes each and every one of us.