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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 Twelve: What’s Science Got to Do with It?: Possibilities for Social Justice in Science Classroom Teaching and Learning 8th–9th Grade (Alexis Patterson / Deb Morrison / Alexandra Schindel)


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What’s Science Got TO Do WITH It?

Possibilities for Social Justice in Science Classroom Teaching and Learning

8th–9th Grade


As science teachers and teacher educators we have often experienced looks of confusion from other teachers and researchers when we talk about social justice teaching and learning in K–12 science classrooms. Typical of the queries we receive is: What’s science got to do with it? Social studies or English seem to provide “natural” settings in schools for exploring social justice issues in the curriculum, but science is thought to be objective, free from the lens of political and ideological contexts and thus free from the need to consider how social justice intersects with science teaching and learning. However, science is anything but objective, instead being situated in participants’ particular standpoints (Harding, 1986). Thus school science is certainly not objective or neutral in any way and is thus not free from the need to question curricular matters (Horton & Freire, 1990). In this chapter, we present narrative examples of social justice in science from our own practices as teachers and researchers to help educators envision transformative and justice-centered science teaching and learning. Specifically, we question: What does it mean to critically “read science” and “read the world with science” through teaching practices and learning experiences within science? We specifically include examples that support engaging students in...

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