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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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Chapter 7. The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism: Purpose, Power, and Possibility


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I can go no further in this book without acknowledging an underlying tension between me, the portraitist, and Rosie, Natalia, Kari, and Lisa, the protagonists. I identify as a man, they as women. My positionality as a male raised in a patriarchal society has led me, at times, to question the legitimacy of my assuming the role of portraitist for four female teacher activists. It seems no mere coincidence that my mind bends toward critical education theorists who are predominantly male (Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Bill Ayers, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, etc.). The first draft of this final chapter almost exclusively cited the work of the male scholars listed above. As valuable as their contributions have been, sole reliance on their theoretical precedents are inadequate to the task of positing the pedagogy of teacher activism, especially when drawing lessons from the lives and work of four female protagonists. For this, and in all efforts to deepen understanding about teaching and education, I must also turn to critical feminist education scholars such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Lilia Bartolomé, Patricia Hill Collins, Antonia Darder, Madeline Grumet, bell hooks, and more. The pedagogy of teacher activism outlined in this final chapter represents my best thinking, as a male, about what we can all learn by listening to lessons taught primarily by women. ← 129 | 130 →

As raised previously in this book, early social reproduction theories were applied...

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