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Unsettling Education

Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform


Edited By Brian Charest and Kate Sjostrom

Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform offers a counter-narrative to the prevailing orthodoxies of schooling and school reform that conflate education and learning with that which can be measured on state-mandated examinations. Despite the push to "settle" the purposes of teaching and schooling in ways that see education as the teaching of a discrete set of skills that align with standardized exams, there are teachers and students who continue to resist standardization and whose stories suggest there are many ways to organize schools, design curriculum, and understand the purposes of education. Unsettling Education shares stories of how teachers have resisted state and local mandates to teach to the test in dehumanizing ways, how such teachers have sought to de-commodify educational spaces, how they have enacted their ethical commitments to students and communities, and how they have theorized such practices, sometimes even reconsidering their roles as teachers and the very purposes of schooling. Volume contributors offer concrete ways in which teachers might challenge the structures of schooling to reveal the full humanity and potential of students through different forms of resistance pedagogy, institutional critiques, and critical self-reflection. Featuring a wide range of voices and contexts, the collections’ chapters blend story and theory, resulting in a volume both accessible and thought-provoking to varied audiences—from undergraduate students of education and concerned citizens to veteran educators, teacher educators, administrators, and policymakers.

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2. Calculating Justice? Using Mathematical Mindsets for Teaching From a Social Justice Perspective (Angela Whitacre de Resendiz / Will Hudson)


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2. Calculating Justice? Using Mathematical Mindsets for Teaching From a Social Justice Perspective


“Maybe They Can Dance for Us”

Each week, all the students in our school meet in one room for discussion, problem-solving, or students’ presentations of their ideas for the school. During one such meeting, a teacher explained that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was approaching, summarized who Dr. King was and why we celebrate him, and asked students to think of ways we could mark the holiday. Some students suggested reading books about the Civil Rights Era; some thought creating a bulletin board or display was a good idea. And then it happened. A rather precocious, white, first-grade girl, who we learned later had discussed in her classroom that some schools and community events feature African music or dance for Black History Month, suggested that some of the Black students could present a song or do a dance for us. Teachers’ faces went into shock as we looked at each other. Did a white student just suggest that Black students (“They”) should sing and dance for non-Black students (“Us”)? Yes, yes she did, and several kids, their brows furrowed and mouths agape, seemed to have gotten what just happened.

We teachers were suddenly faced with a litany of internal questions, none of which had easy answers. How could we address this comment without crushing this...

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