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Possibilities in Practice

Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines

Edited By Summer Melody Pennell, Ashley S. Boyd, Hillary Parkhouse and Alison LaGarry

This edited collection illustrates different possibilities for social justice practice in various grade levels, disciplines, and interdisciplinary spaces in P–12 education. Chapters in this unique volume demonstrate teaching with a critical lens, helping students develop critical dispositions, encouraging civic action with students, and teaching about topics inclusive of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Based on empirical research, each contribution is rooted in a critical theoretical framework and characterizes findings from sustained study of pedagogic practice, spanning subject matter from social studies, English Language Arts, music, mathematics, and science. Through this work, both pre- and in-service teachers as well as teacher educators will be inspired to practice social justice in their own classrooms.

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Chapter One: Possibilities in Practice: Introduction and Contextual Background (Summer Melody Pennell / Ashley S. Boyd)


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Possibilities IN Practice

Introduction and Contextual Background


Social justice evokes images of activism, of protests and marches advocating for marginalized peoples. Social justice in pedagogy and education also connotes working toward equity for all students, thus maintaining the focus on action for the betterment of society. Social justice pedagogy is, like all critical pedagogies, a way of thinking and framing an approach to teaching rather than a set of prescribed practices. It is versatile and differs depending upon contextual factors such as student background and experiences (Darder, Baltodano, & Torres, 2009). Social justice pedagogy does not have to mean leading students in a march or beginning a revolution; rather, it can be a part of everyday teaching practices (e.g., North, 2009). What, then, might these practices look like? How can classroom teachers—who are under local and societal pressures to increase test scores and meet varied standards and accountability measures—incorporate social justice teaching into their curriculum while meeting those expectations and mandates? This volume seeks to answer those questions by demonstrating examples of social justice teaching from actual PK–12 contexts.

As editors, we collectively felt the need for a book like this one as we worked through our individual research studies on social justice education in different school disciplines. We currently teach our pre-service teachers about injustices and equity at our respective universities and...

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