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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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We thank our series editors, Les Burns and sj Miller, as well as Megan Madden and Monica Baum at Peter Lang Publishing. Thanks, too, to Carolyn Lesnick and Josh Staub for formatting and cover art, respectively.

Our mentors Bill Ayers, Todd DeStigter, Kevin Kumashiro, and David Schaafsma have provided continual guidance and insight.

Many colleagues and friends, too, deserve our appreciation: Chris Bass, Lauren Bell, Mikela Bjork, Jake Burns, Amy McGrail, Sarah Donovan, Angela Gutierrez, Nicol Howard, Abby Kindelsperger, Kate Manski, Russell Mayo, Manulani Meyer, Sarah Rutter, Jennifer Tilton, Beverly Troiano, Andrew Wall, and Christopher Worthman.

Special thanks to this volume’s contributors, all of whom challenged us to “unsettle” our thinking on schools and schooling: Deborah Bieler, Mikela Bjork, Kevin Carey, Alex Corbitt, Sarah Donovan, Noah Asher Golden, Matthew Homrich-Knieling, Will Hudson, Glynis Kinnan, Avi Lessing, Russell Mayo, James McCoyne, Angela Whitacre de Resendiz, and Samantha Young. And special thanks, of course, to their and our students, past and present.

Finally, we are grateful to our families for their support and encouragement.

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