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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 Two: Theoretical and Historical Foundations of Social Justice Teaching (Hillary Parkhouse / Ashley S. Boyd / Summer Melody Pennell)


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Theoretical AND Historical Foundations OF Social Justice Teaching



Although the field of social justice education—by that title—is relatively new, teaching for social justice is not new at all. Early 20th century education scholars such as George Counts, John Dewey, and Carter G. Woodson advocated for similar ideas, such as participatory democracy and the expansion of literacy to create a more equitable society. Moreover, many fields emerging within education over the second half of the 20th century share similar aims and underlying tenets with social justice education. These fields include ethnic studies, multicultural education, culturally relevant pedagogies, critical pedagogy, anti-colonial education, feminist pedagogy, and queer pedagogy.

Since the emergence of social justice education as a distinct field in the 1990s, its popularity has spread rapidly among educational researchers, practitioners, publishing outlets and others (North, 2008). According to Adams, Bell, and Griffin (2007), by the 2006 annual conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA), there were 112 sessions on this topic, and “AERA now has a director of social justice, a Social Justice Action Committee, a special interest group (SIG) on Educators for Social Justice, and another newly formed SIG on Leadership for Social Justice” (p. xvii). Schools of education and other programs are increasingly using the term in their stated aims and curricula. ← 15...

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