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Engaging the Critical in English Education

Approaches from the Commission on Social Justice in Teacher Education


Edited By Briana Asmus and Charles H. Gonzalez

The chapters in this collection explore the implementation of social justice pedagogies with preservice teachers by members of the Commission on Social Justice in Teacher Education; a group of teacher educators from across the country whose primary goal is to prepare teachers to use socially just models to reach all groups of students and to create a more equitable educational system. In this collection, each member/author presents a critical model of social justice teaching by considering the ways in which gender, race, class, and other intersections function in the classroom. Individually, authors enact critical models by interrogating inequitable systems of oppression in their own professional and pedagogical environments. Collectively, the chapters ask what thoughtful, participatory social justice pedagogy looks like in multidimensional pedagogical spaces. At all levels, this collection explores the rewards and challenges of social justice pedagogy within and outside of preservice teacher preparation programs influenced by a constantly shifting political landscape. Ultimately, this collection seeks to discover how ideas of social justice are conceptualized and understood by English educators and K-12 teachers.

As a possible approach to this question, the chapters in this collection support ELATE-SJ’s paradigm for advocacy. This paradigm includes three areas of enaction: research, scholarship, and action. Within these areas, members of the commission (authors) seek to better understand how preservice ELA teachers see themselves and others, to develop flexible teaching models grounded in social justice pedagogy (SJP), and to delineate opportunities for transformation, growth, and change in and through our profession.

“For any English Education programs undergoing accreditation or program revision, this book traces the significant history of the field’s social justice standard, offering a range of examples of how its implementation could look. Effecting social justice through English teaching might involve: nationwide dialogue around shared provocative texts, addressing the climate emergency, truly teaching to multilingual students, naming and responding to race and racism, or ensuring that we devote attention to class differences. Rather than pick and choose one way to meet the standard, programs could incorporate a panoply of these approaches so that English classrooms cannot help but become the central site for social change.”—Sophia Tatiana Sarigianides, author (with Carlin Borsheim-Black) of Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature Instruction for White Students