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be the change

teacher, activist, global citizen


Edited By Rita Verma

This book examines the ways young people engage in action, dialogue, and activism, and how they become global citizens. The essays in the book illustrate how young people with deep convictions on how to change the world make a difference in their communities. The community becomes the classroom, and their activism the true lesson. Possible «utopias» are realized with every effort to engage in activism, to be an advocate for both oneself and others, and with each critical engagement with oppression. These young activists are the unsung heroes and theirs are the victories in current educational debates. Moving away from theoretical debates on multicultural and progressive education, this book illustrates how youth action, curriculum strategies and creative writing, service learning projects, advocacy work at community-based and grassroots organizations, and global initiatives can result in real-life victories.


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Foreword ix


Foreword Christine E. Sleeter I fell into activist multicultural teaching in the early 1970s, a time when youth activism was visible almost everywhere. I use the word “fell” because I had not been seeking the work that turned out to engage me deeply over the past 35- plus years. Instead, the work found me. More precisely, 10th-grade inner-city students in a World History class declared that they would rather design their own inquiry into the Women’s Liberation Movement that was vibrantly alive around them, than plod through their Eurocentric history textbook. It hap- pened like this: My cooperating teacher, having assured himself that I was in control of the class and prepared to deliver my first lecture (topic: feudalism in Europe), had retreated to the teachers’ lounge. As I began speaking, students’ bored expressions told me that “doing” medieval European history, delivered through a dry lecture and a drier textbook, was not education but rather reluc- tant compliance. So, I put aside my notes and asked the students what they wanted to learn about. After an animated discussion, “women’s liberation” bubbled up to the top. Thus began my journey into activist teaching. Why women’s liberation? At the time, organized protests were common as women challenged taken-for-granted, institutionalized patriarchy. My students wanted to consider issues such as the ramifications of women keeping their own surnames after marrying—if they married at all. Students wanted to inves- tigate sexism in athletics. They wanted to find out what was behind many women renouncing...

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