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Intentional Excellence

The Pedagogy, Power, and Politics of Excellence in Latina/o Schools and Communities


Louie F. Rodríguez

Are we bold enough to recognize our own excellence in our schools and communities? This question drives Intentional Excellence, an audacious attempt at developing a Pedagogy of Excellence in Latina/o schools and communities as a result of observations, insights, and lessons learned from work with schools and communities across the United States. Louie F. Rodríguez argues that while there is no shortage of excellence in some of the schools and communities that struggle the most, there is a pedagogical void, or an Excellence Paradox, that has disallowed excellence from being used as a potential tool to transform the culture of education. This book offers an additive framework for committed stakeholders and outlines six key observations including the contagious nature of excellence, excellence as a responsibility, the political viability of excellence, the additive possibilities of excellence, the role of excellence as a curricular and pedagogical tool, and the role of excellence in working toward equity and social justice in education. Rodríguez discusses a series of case studies that have used Excellence Campaigns to organize, define, and recognize their own excellence. The book also discusses the possibilities of excellence beyond education and proposes a new role in education to make excellence happen: Excellence Engineers. The book concludes with a theory of action that is necessary for excellence to thrive in the twenty-first century. Our children and communities deserve to see themselves as «models of excellence» and this book proposes a pedagogy to help get us there.


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Preface vii Acknowledgments xiii part i: the paradox and pedagogy of excellence Chapter 1. The “Excellence Paradox” in Our Public Schools 3 Chapter 2. The Promise and Possibilities of Excellence Campaigns 37 part ii: the power of excellence: six implications for action Chapter 3. Excellence Is Contagious, Inherently Additive, and Politically Viable 57 Chapter 4. Excellence as a Responsibility, as Curriculum and Pedagogy, and More Evidence of Its Power 75 vi intentional excellence part iii: towards creativity, action, and sustainability Chapter 5. Implications for Regional Improvement: Reflections on the Role of Excellence Beyond Education 101 Chapter 6. Time for a New Role: Excellence Engineers 111 Chapter 7. The Pedagogy, Power, and Politics of Excellence in Latina/o Schools and Communities in the 21st Century 123 References 135 Index 139

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