The first of four sections in Those Who Can: A Handbook for Social Reconstruction and Teaching proposes that all teachers share a set of responsibilities, and carries out an assessment of the educator’s work using these responsibilities as a benchmark. The second section considers teaching and learning from the perspective of a critical pedagogy. The third section offers possibilities for a critical pedagogy that others may use, including a school design and lesson plans. The fourth and final section includes a timeline of significant events in the history of public schools, as well as a glossary of terms and bibliography. Challenging the current trend of simplified and teacher-proof classrooms, Those Who Can: A Handbook for Social Reconstruction and Teaching concludes that social reconstruction and critical pedagogy both offer ways to meaningfully question the work of teaching and ways to find answers.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of contents
- Chapter 1: Teaching in the Fray
- Chapter 2: How to Use This Book: You Don’t Have to Read the Whole Thing, but Please Read This
- Chapter 3: A Brief History of the Public School
- Chapter 4: Why This Matters Now More Than Ever
- Chapter 5: Coming Full Circle—Thinking Through My Own Experience
- Chapter 6: Methodology—Constructing Meaning Through My Own Experience
- Chapter 7: The Power of the Teacher
- Chapter 8: Ten Responsibilities for Those Who Can
- Chapter 9: Reflection
- Chapter 10: An Examination of My Own Practice: A Reflection in Two Parts
- Chapter 11: Planning and Learning—From Cognition to Culture
- Chapter 12: Teaching—The Performative Nature and Potential of Curriculum
- Chapter 13: Teaching—Looking at Text
- Chapter 14: Possibilities for a Social Reconstruction
- Chapter 15: Every School, Every Subject—STEM and Classroom Culture
- Chapter 16: Lesson Plan: How Do We Get From Here to There?
- Chapter 17: Lesson Plans: Poetry Lesson: How to Write the Great African-American Novel: Reading for Information
- Chapter 18: A Thoughtful Timeline
- Reconstruction Concepts: Glossary and Annotated Bibliography
- Series index
Historically, the role and purpose of public schools has been debated. Are public schools supposed to maintain existing power structures or dismantle them? Critical pedagogy, as a philosophical approach to education, has emerged as a response to this age-old question, posing that the critical element for an educator’s practice is that all decisions are inherently political and social. This study traces the development of a critical pedagogy within one educator’s personal history, and examines the implications of critical pedagogy from this educator’s perspective. The study draws from the educator’s years of practice and reflection and reads as a handbook for other educators to use in the implementation of critical pedagogy. Divided into four sections, the first proposes that all teachers share a set of responsibilities, and carries out an assessment of the educator’s work using these responsibilities as a benchmark. The second section considers teaching and learning from the perspective of a critical pedagogy. The third section offers possibilities for a critical pedagogy that others may use, including a school design and lesson plans. The last section includes a timeline of significant events in the history of public schools as well as a glossary of terms and a bibliography. This study relies on multiple research methodologies. Essentially an action research project, it incorporates historical inquiry and interpretation of the written contributions that some of ← ix | x → the most significant critical education and critical race theorists have given to the world of educational pedagogy. Challenging the current trend of simplified and teacher-proof classrooms, this study concludes that critical pedagogy offers both ways to meaningfully question the work of teaching and ways to find answers.
There is a conflict that exists in American classrooms. This tension has existed historically and exists now. Are schools neutral spaces where information is disseminated and acted upon or the location for the emergence of democracy, liberation, and freedom? Are they the space where the power structures and social hierarchies are produced and preserved? It is this dichotomy posed in 1916 by philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey, who wrote about the hope and possibility for democracy as well as what critical education theorist Michael Apple in the 21st century calls the maintenance of hegemony that is inextricably linked to the current state of American public-school education. From the intent of the material used to prepare students to the unanswered socio-politically driven concepts of citizenship, voice, value systems, and vocation, candidates in teacher preparation programs are projected to grapple with philosophy of education courses that conflict with their teaching experience once they enter a public school. The ideals espoused in philosophy classes seem to be at odds with the experiences of urban public-school teachers. The short answer to these questions is that schools are not neutral places. In her 2001 article, There is no Race in the Schoolyard, Amanda Lewis explains that teachers need to strongly resist the notion that “…schools are seen merely as transmitters of useful knowledge; as neutral instructional ← 1 | 2 → sites rather than as cultural and political sites in which prior social order is reproduced” (Lewis, 2001). She goes on to tell us that “Schools are arguably the one of the central institutions involved in the drawing and redrawing of racial lines,” and even more significant that “Schools may be one of few places where such racial understandings can be successfully challenged.”
Therefore, teachers must simultaneously deliver content in a social context that does not match their preservice philosophical ideals. Teachers are struggling with meaning-making while engaged in the real world of teaching. It is this reality that is addressed by this book. The introduction that follows serves the following two purposes:
• First, to situate the theory itself within the text of this book—a text that attempts to demonstrate how the foundation and implementation of a critical pedagogy takes place; and
• Second, to situate the role of social justice education: critical pedagogy, critical multiculturalism, antiracist education, and social reconstructionism in the history of the American education system. The field of education is dynamic and evolving, so, of course, alternatives have been proposed and even practiced. Still, there is uncertainty in the field as structures and strategies have been introduced at individual schools, systems, and now the nation. The extent to which we organize and classify our pedagogical identities should be directly related to the extent it extends our thinking and supports our work.
Kwame Anthony Appiah reminds us that our social responsibilities extend beyond our immediate orbit: “Our responsibilities are not just to a hundred people with whom we can interact with and see… you cannot retreat to the hundred. You can’t simply be partial to some tiny group and live out your moral life there”; this is the truth for educators, especially (p. 88). So, in this spirit we will call the umbrella theory antihate pedagogy. Under this umbrella is the social justice umbrella and under this is the critical theory, critical pedagogy, multiculturalism, culturally relevant teaching, and of course social reconstructionism.
The term “hate crime” is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” ← 2 | 3 → Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.
So for our purposes, anti-hate education will describe education, teaching, and content that is specifically meant to actively combat bias and the actions that are bias driven. The operative term here is bias. Antihate education acknowledges and actively seeks work against bias and hate in any way that it manifests in our schools.
Similarly, social justice is both concerned content and approach. It is defined by Lee Ann Bell as both a process and a goal. She writes “the goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs.” As social justice educators we are concerned with providing academically rigorous and excellent classrooms and learning experiences, but we are also concerned with making space for them to question, challenge, and contribute to what and how that rigor is defined. As social justice educators we want our students to be prepared and excited to go on to higher education after their primary schooling, but more importantly, we want them to construct and contribute to a world where anyone that works a full work week is guaranteed food, shelter, access to medical care, and the resources to survive and thrive and care for their families.
Agency and responsibility are central to social justice education; exceptional learning experiences matter for their own sake (and, indeed, providing exceptional learning experiences for underrepresented children is in and of itself a radical act) but also to be transformed into tools for creating social change, justice, and transformation.
Concurrently, to teach from a social justice orientation means we must examine and question justice for whom? Justice from what? Implied in this phrase is that there is injustice.
The broadest term to usefully answer this question is the term oppression. Beneath this umbrella we’ll find internalized and personal bias. Institutional and systemic oppression or, what we know conversationally as the isms and the phobias: racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia. Everyone can and should be compelled to want social justice, but what this looks like in your school may differ depending on the communities you serve and represent. Doing the work of figuring out where we stand on all sides of this equation is necessary and ongoing.
The term “critical” has multiple singular, yet overlapping meanings that apply to our work. We know critical to mean disapproving (she was critical of the movie they chose) and we know critical to mean a certain kind of recognition (the movie received critical acclaim). For educators, critical more often is associated with critical thinking: disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. So, understandably, critical theory concerns itself with the critique of society, culture, and the humanities. Established originally in Germany at the Frankfurt School in the 1930s, critical theory as a wider discipline asks how society, culture, politics, and ideology are woven together.
- X, 190
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- Publication date
- 2018 (January)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2018. X, 190 pp.