Portraits of Four Teachers for Justice
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.
Chapter 2. Researching Teacher Activism: Traditions, Framing, and Method
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RESEARCHING TEACHER ACTIVISM: TRADITIONS, FRAMING, AND METHOD
Teacher Activist Traditions
There are at least three traditions of teacher activism evident in the literature: (1) feminist educator activism; (2) teacher union activism; and (3) new grassroots teacher activism. In the real lives of teacher activists—as the portraits of Rosie, Natalia, Kari, and Lisa will illustrate—these traditions can overlap with each other depending on the work in which teachers are engaged; here I will discuss them distinctly.
Feminist Educator Activism
In general, feminist activism emphasizes not only the public sphere and public political actions aimed at addressing social injustice but also the political significance of personal lives, experiences, and silenced voices of marginalized peoples (Casey, 1993; Collins, 2009; Morgan, 1970; Sattler, 1997). In particular, feminist educational scholarship establishes the importance of life histories when examining teachers and activism. Casey’s (1993) study of women teacher activists used in-depth life history interviews to illuminate the various discourses invoked by the teachers when they talk about their lives and their work. For the ← 9 | 10 → teachers she studied, “everything is political” (Gramsci in Casey, 1993, p. 158). From the state and institutions as sites of political struggle to the negotiation of personal identity and relationships, the lives and work of teacher activists are complexly grounded in particular social relationships and contexts (Casey, 1993). Building upon Casey, Sattler (1997) studied the politics and practices of feminist teaching and stresses the important position...
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