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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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Part One: Teacher as Activist 1


• P A R T O N E • Teacher as Activist • C H A P T E R O N E • An Introduction: Acknowledging Activism and Global Citizenship in Our Schools and Our Communities Rita Verma One of the most important tasks of critical educational practice is to make possible the conditions in which learners, in their interaction with one another and with their teachers, engage in the experience of assuming themselves as social, historical, thinking, communicating, transformative, creative persons: dreamers of possible utopias, capable of being angry because of a capacity to love. (Freire, 2001, p. 33) Who are these dreamers of possible utopias that Paulo Freire describes? How can the expression “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi become more than a display poster or mere motivational expression in our school hallways? Teaching for change, human rights, and social justice seems to be a distant goal as testing and accountability have borne down on school districts and the schoolday experience is stripped of creativity and spontaneity. The test-taking culture and No Child Left Behind policies have made schools akin to factories producing similar, uncritical thinkers where both teacher and student learn and teach to the test—becoming a mundane task of accumulating and memorizing unrelated, insignificant facts. Accountability and the de-skilling of the teaching profession have led to teacher burnout and student disengagement; students’ identities have become defined by their “assessment scores,” and teachers by their abilities to produce them. Dominant...

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