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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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Part Two: Pre-K–Elementary: Social Justice and Primary Students: How Early Is Too Early?


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Social Justice and Primary Students: How Early Is Too Early?

Often when considering the potential of social justice education, concerns about appropriateness and age arise. How early is too early? This is a question many pre-service and practicing teachers often ask. Suitability based on age is a myth that scholars have debunked over time (Greenbaum, 1997), noting that stage theories, which normalize age expectations, and developmental progressions are not generalizable across or within cultures (Lesko, 1996). Nevertheless, much apprehension continues to exist with regard to bringing up sensitive topics with children. However, it is absolutely necessary that we begin in early childhood if we hope to make change and to work against forces of oppression that operate during these key socialization years. If primary teachers do not address issues of racism, gender inequity, or social class distinctions, for example, our younger students run the risk of maintaining the status quo and—either willfully or unknowingly—the injustices of our systems.

The authors in this section show us that, with sensitivity and conscientiousness, it is never too early to talk with children about culturally relevant topics and to pay close attention to the spaces in which we construct their learning. In Chapter 3, Bower-Phipps, Powell, Bivona, Harmon, and Olcott describe their work in a teacher inquiry group to consider the prevalence of gender norms in early childhood settings and to work against complicity in...

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