Theoretical foundations for social justice education


This chapter contextualizes the approach to oppression and social justice taken throughout this book. It provides a framework for readers who approach oppression and social justice from other positions to see what approaches we share, and where we differ. Our intention is to foster a broad and continuing dialogue among the many people who struggle, as we do, to find more effective ways to challenge oppressive systems and promote social justice through education. The chapter examines the enduring and the ever-changing aspects of oppression by tracing ways in which "commonsense" knowledge and assumptions make it difficult to see oppression clearly. We underscore the value of history for discerning patterns, often invisible in daily life, that reflect systemic aspects of oppression as it functions in different periods and contexts. We propose concepts that enable us to freeze and focus on specific forms of oppression in our teaching while staying cognizant of the shifting kaleidoscope of dynamic and complex social processes in which they are embedded. As historical circumstances change and newly emerging social movements take up issues of oppression in the United States and throughout the world, new definitions and understandings will evolve. Through highlighting the historical and contextual nature of this process here, we hope to avoid the danger of reifying systems of oppression as static or treating individuals as unidimensional and unchanging. History illustrates both how tenacious and variable systems of oppression are and how dynamic and creative we must continue to be to rise to the challenges they pose. The concepts and processes we present in this text are also continuously evolving. We hope the work presented in this second edition will contribute to an ongoing dialogue about social justice education theory and practice in ways that can have more potent and sustained impacts for justice, fairness and equality in our world. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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    • "The study examines the impact of power structures on the lives of trans men, including the complexities of multiple social memberships and identities along with the institutional and cultural structures that perpetuate oppression. The social justice education framework is informed by scholarship from a multitude of disciplines and draws on a range of social theories (Bell 2007). Theories of social identities are of particular relevance to this research. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite increasing attention on issues raised by trans students in higher education, almost no empirical research has examined the identities and experiences of trans students as a group, or of specific subsets of trans students. In this article, I draw on interviews with twenty-five trans-male undergraduate students to explore how their experiences of coming to understand their gender identities are shaped by their experiences in higher education. I show how participants' concerns about being " trans enough " highlight contradictions within identity discourses of and about trans men, and how their narratives often rely on a medical model or " wrong body " discourse, even while students critique that model. Participants described expending significant energy navigating conflicting demands from other trans men, from other peers, and from their undergraduate institutions, in ways that often overshadowed their own desires and internal senses of identity. Institutions should support further research to explore the experiences and needs of trans men and other trans students, while implementing known best practices to become more trans-inclusive campuses.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015
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    • "According to Hackman (2005), a robust social justice perspective empowers students by encouraging them to think critically, and includes five key components: content, critical thinking, action and social change, reflection, and awareness of multicultural group dynamics. We believe that however fortuitous, Budde's original notion of charters held the promise of social justice in that teachers could structure learning environments that were sensitive to learning needs, include strategic content in their lessons, and sequence structured activities carefully, with a flexibility that supported each student (Bell & Griffin, 1997). "

    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Equity & Excellence in Education
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    • "The term " social justice, " when applied to teacher education, has been appropriated in so many ways that the term has become diluted, often synonymous with offering a multicultural education course or placing candidates in schools with students of color (McDonald & Zeichner, 2009). While different educators and scholars take up different positions on social justice education, such as redistributing resources, developing student agency, or recognizing and affirming all social groups, especially those that have been marginalized, and ensuring their success (Cochran- Smith & Lytle, 2009; Zeichner, 2009), we argue, following Bell (2007), that each perspective is necessary for education that is socially just: "

    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013
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