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The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism

Portraits of Four Teachers for Justice


Keith Catone

Through the artful science of portraiture, The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism presents the stories of four teacher activists—how they are and have become social change agents—to uncover important pedagogical underpinnings of teacher activism. Embedded in their stories are moments of political clarity and consciousness, giving rise to their purpose as teacher activists. The narratives illuminate how both inner passions and those stirred by caring relationships with others motivate their work, while the intentional ways in which they attempt to disrupt power relations give shape to their approaches to teacher activism. Knowing their work will never truly be done and that the road they travel is often difficult, the teacher activists considered here persist because of the hope and possibility that their work might change the world. Like many pre-service educators or undergraduates contemplating teaching as a vocation, these teacher activists were not born ready for the work that they do. Yet by mining their biographical histories and trajectories of political development, this book illuminates the pedagogy of teacher activism that guides their work.

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This book has been made possible by the love and support of so many. First, I am forever indebted to Rosie Frascella, Lisa North, Kari Kokka, and Natalia Ortiz for opening up their classrooms, lives, and memories to my prying inquiries. The journey they each took with me over the past few years has been long and steady. I am thankful for their perseverance. Further, my good friend, former teacher, and artist, Rudy Bravo has blessed the cover with original painted portraits of each woman who appears in this book. Thank you.

My first students and teaching community at Banana Kelly High School in the South Bronx have been a source of inspiration for everything I have done and accomplished in my career. My doctoral committee members, Mark Warren, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, and William Ayers, were each instrumental in helping me see this project through from start to finish. I am especially indebted to Dr. Ayers, who never stopped asking me when my book was going to be ready. Dr. Karen Mapp has always been a present, steady source of support.

I have a supportive community of coconspirators. The New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) continue to be a source of inspiration. A special shout out goes to Bree Picower, whose scholarship on grassroots teacher activism has laid much of the groundwork for works like mine. Thank ← xiii | xiv → you to the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and especially to Warren...

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