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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 Nine: Cultivating Communities of Care: Story Circles as Social Justice Practice 6th–7th Grade (Courtney B. Cook / Celina Martínez Nichols)


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Cultivating Communities OF Care

Story Circles as Social Justice Practice

6th–7th Grade


Kenneth Paul Kramer opened his book Learning Through Dialogue: The Relevance of Martin Buber’s Classroom by claiming that “there exists a pervasive human relational problem in our culture, one shared by everyone … which drives a seemingly impenetrable wedge between us all” (2013, p. xxi). Beyond the scope of our personal (in)capacities to relate to one another on a human level, our contemporary educational, political, and social structures lend themselves ideologically and practically towards a project of dehumanization (De Lissovoy, 2010) which valorizes difference, individual merit achieved through competition, and, therefore, isolation over common experience and community. Rather than teaching community in our schools, teachers and students must navigate sociocultural and political powers of exclusion that work to divide us. bell hooks (2003) reminded us that one of the dangers we face in education is the loss of feeling community, which endangers our ability to feel connected to others and the world. She also argued that we have within us the agency to move beyond passive hopefulness in order to actively work, through intentional practice, towards a deeper sense of humanity and connection. As teachers, we are separated from one another and are asked to become complicit in teaching lessons of division through insistence upon individual merit, testing and assessment, and a...

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