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Learning to be in the World with Others

Difficult Knowledge and Social Studies Education


H. James Garrett

In this book, H. James Garrett inquires into the processes of learning about the social world, populated as it often is with bewildering instances of loss, violence, and upheaval. In such learning, interactions invite and enliven our passionate responses, or prompt us to avoid them. Interpreting and working with these often emotional reactions is critical to social studies education and developing strategies for individuals to participate in democracy. Garrett illustrates ways that learning about the world does not occur in absence of our intimate relations to knowledge, the way learning sometimes feels like our undoing, and how new knowledge can feel more like a burden than an advantage.

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Chapter 5. The Presence of History and Learning to Teach: Novel Reading in Social Studies Education



The Presence of History and Learning to Teach

Novel Reading in Social Studies Education

Despite new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives often being felt as an imposition rather than a revelation, tolerating new ideas or ways of knowing is an integral function in the process of learning. Although what most popularly counts as pedagogy in the public imaginary involves a one-­to-one exchange of discrete bits of knowledge that are quantifiable and located within a structure of added value. What is less visible in the public conversations are moments of learning that help students in the process of becoming more creative and healthy individuals situated within healthy and creative communities. And, while the pressures of quantification and value added measures continue to present themselves in all formal educational quarters, the question of how to think of pedagogical work in alternative ways, ways that move toward that transformational moment, remains an open one.

This chapter is concerned with exploring the degree to which breakdown in meaning can lead to new meanings, ones that reach beyond those that would fit nicely into regimes of categorization, ones that can escape the bindings of funding and testing and quantifying. As such, it is offered as part literary critique, case study, and theoretical consideration of pedagogy. I bring those considerations together as a composition representing and demonstrating my investments in both pedagogy and its theorizing. This chapter is not←109 | 110→ entirely an empirical project, though I...

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