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Becoming Activist

Critical Literacy and Youth Organizing


Elizabeth Bishop

Becoming Activist is a revolutionary study of youth human rights activism and literacy learning. The book follows five urban youth organizers from the Drop Knowledge Project in New York City. Intentionally polyvocal, the voices of the five youth are featured prominently to highlight the shifting articulation of their activist identities in relation to social and economic justice. Becoming Activist explores critical literacy pedagogy beyond the confines of formal education. While it has been historically theorized within English classrooms, much existing research points to the limitations of conducting critical literacy in schools. In search of a space where critical literacy can be more fully realized, this book positions urban youth organizing as an alternative context for powerful community-based learning. A valuable read for educators, researchers, and young organizers, Becoming Activist offers insight into conducting literacy work to promote positive youth and community development. Ultimately, the idea of «becoming» is key to understanding and supporting youth activists as they grow to exercise their political power for positive social change.
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Series index


Shirley R. Steinberg and Priya ParmarSeries Editors

Critical Praxis and Curriculum Guides is a curriculum-based book series reflective of theory-creating praxis. The series targets not only undergraduate and graduate audiences but also tenured and experienced teachers of all disciplines. Research suggests that teachers need well-designed, thematic-centered curricula and lessons. This is accomplished when the school works as a community to meet its own needs. Community in this sense includes working collaboratively with students, parents, and local community organizations to help build the curriculum. Practically, this means that time is devoted to professional development workshops, not exam reviews or test preparation pointers but real learning. Together with administrators, teachers form professional learning communities (PLCs) to discuss, analyze, and revise curricula and share pedagogical strategies that meet the needs of their particular school demographics. This communal approach was found to be more successful than requiring each individual teacher to create lessons on her/his own. Ideally, we would love it if each teacher could create his/her own authentic lessons because only s/he truly knows her/his students—and we encourage it, because it is possible! However, as educators ourselves, we understand the realities our colleagues in public schools face, especially when teaching in high-needs areas.

The Critical Praxis and Curriculum Guides series provides relief for educators needing assistance in preparing their lessons. In the spirit of communal practices, the series welcomes co-authored books by theorists and practitioners as well as solo-authored books by an expert deeply informed by...

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