Educating for Social Justice through Activist-Oriented Sites

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


This study combines critical service learning (Mitchell, 2008) and antioppressive pedagogies (Kumashiro, 2002) to highlight the importance of using community sites aimed toward transformational social change. How sites are structured and how students are positioned influence what students learn from the experience. Using ethnographic methods, I analyze experiences of college service learners working with a labor union to illustrate how activist-oriented organizations are fundamental to providing critical spaces of learning and social change.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
The purpose of this article is to discuss meritocracy as it impacts our undergraduate college teaching. As college educators, we have come to realize how little students have been challenged to critically examine the notion of meritocracy. Seeking to understand why this is so and what we can do to engender a more nuanced understanding of how social class is structured and perpetuated across generations, we present an assessment of why the majority of students believe we live in a meritocratic society and how college educators can use specific activities to complicate this view. As we do this we include evidence of how social class and social mobility are structured and why an adherence to meritocracy is, we believe, an anathema to teaching for social justice.
Full-text available
The emergence of service-learning pedagogies in Canada has received a variety of critical responses. Some regard service-learning as a public relations effort of universities and colleges; others see it as a countermovement to academic corporatization; still others consider it part of a wider cultural project to produce self-responsible and socially responsible, enterprising citizens. In this article, we argue that each type of response rests on a different critique of the neo-liberal context of post-secondary education; these critiques, in turn, stem from different conceptions of neo-liberalism: as policy, ideology, or gov-ernance (Larner, 2000). Rather than attempt to resolve contradictions among these conceptualizations, we address them as a framework for understanding divergent responses to service-learning. We illustrate the framework with the example of a high-enrolment undergraduate course, and we call for future research and educative engagement with the politics of post-secondary service-learning that is informed by a multi-faceted analysis of neo-liberalism. Résumé L'émergence au Canada de la pédagogie d'apprentissage par le service communautaire a suscité une grande variété de réactions. Certains y voient une opération de relations publiques de la part des universités et des collèges, d'autres un mouvement à l'encontre du corporatisme académique, d'autres encore un volet d'un vaste projet culturel ayant pour but de former des citoyens entreprenants, et responsables envers eux-mêmes et la société. Dans cet article, nous avançons que chacune de ces réactions repose sur une critique particulière du contexte néolibéral de la formation postsecondaire,
Full-text available
This essay considers the ethical implications of engaging in a pedagogy of discomfort, using as a point of departure Butler's reflections on ethical violence and norms. The author shows how this attempt is full of tensions that cannot, if ever, be easily resolved. To address these tensions, the author first offers a brief overview of the notion of pedagogy of discomfort and discusses its relevance with Foucault's idea of ‘ethic of discomfort’ and the promise of ‘safe classroom.’ Then, he focuses on Butler's account of ethical violence and norms to show how the subject's constitution and regulation are inextricably linked to violence in several ways. In the final part of the paper, the author turns more specifically to the ways in which a pedagogy of discomfort might entail ethical violence, suggesting how the turn to a nonviolent ethics might become possible or whether the ethical resonances of that challenge will always entail a degree of ambivalence.
Full-text available
This article focuses on the contributions of philosophy, art and science to education through the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological usefulness of a Deleuze–Guattarian conceptual framework that informs multiple literacies theory (MLT). Education lends itself to Deleuze's notion of connecting and creating through philosophy, art and science. How do they come together and connect in education and with MLT? Accordingly the first part focuses on some key concepts related to MLT. The second part presents MLT. The third part centres on vignettes from a two-year study involving multilingual children acquiring multiple writing systems simultaneously. The fourth part brings together possible lines of flight as rhizomatic connections in order to consider what MLT offers as a concept for educational future.
Full-text available
In this open letter, Eve Tuck calls on communities, researchers, and educators to reconsider the long-term impact of "damage-centered" research—research that intends to document peoples' pain and brokenness to hold those in power accountable for their oppression. This kind of research operates with a flawed theory of change: it is often used to leverage reparations or resources for marginalized communities yet simultane-ously reinforces and reinscribes a one-dimensional notion of these people as depleted, ruined, and hopeless. Tuck urges communities to institute a moratorium on damage-centered research to reformulate the ways research is framed and conducted and to reimagine how findings might be used by, for, and with communities. Dear Readers, Greetings! I write to you from a little desk in my light-filled house in New York State, my new home after living in Brooklyn for the past eleven years. Today, New York does not seem so far from St. Paul Island, one of the Pribilof Islands of the Aleutian chain in Alaska, where my family is from and where my relations continue to live. Something about writing this letter closes the gap between these disparate places I call home. I write to you about home, about our communities. I write to identify a per-sistent trend in research on Native communities, city communities, and other disenfranchised communities—what I call damage-centered research. I invite you to join me in re-visioning research in our communities not only to recog-nize the need to document the effects of oppression on our communities but also to consider the long-term repercussions of thinking of ourselves as broken. This is an open letter addressed to educational researchers and practi-tioners concerned with fostering and maintaining ethical relationships with disenfranchised and dispossessed communities and all of those troubled by the possible hidden costs of a research strategy that frames entire communi-ties as depleted.
The phrase "teaching for social justice" is often used, but not always explained. What does it look like to teach for social justice? What are the implications for anti-oppressive teaching across different areas of the curriculum? Drawing on his own experiences teaching diverse grades and subjects, leading author and educator Kevin Kumashiro examines various aspects of anti-oppressive teaching and learning in six different subject areas. Celebrating 10 years as a go-to resource for K-12 teachers and teacher educators, this third edition of the bestselling Against Common Sense features: A new introduction that addresses the increased challenges of anti-oppressive teaching in an era of teacher evaluations, standardization and ever-increasing accountability. End of chapter teacher responses that provide subject-specific examples of what anti-oppressive teaching really looks like in the classroom. End of chapter questions for reflection that will enhance comprehension and help readers translate abstract ideas into classroom practice. Additional readings and resources to inspire students to further their social justice education. Compelling and accessible, Against Common Sense continues to offer readers the tools they need to begin teaching against their common sense assumptions and toward social justice.
Tutoring programs that link colleges to public schools are seen as a way to improve the academic performance of K12 students while providing a practicum site for college-age students. Prior research on college-K12 partnerships focuses on how the academic achievement of both K12 and college students are enhanced by these relationships. This article challenges the stock story that such outreach programs are unproblematic and entirely altruistic endeavors and offers insight into the bumpy terrain of town–gown relationships complicated by race, class and academic divides. Using critical race methodology, this research tells a counter-story that highlights the white savior and poverty pimpin’ projects of outreach work.
Prior research measuring service-learning program successes reveals the approach can positively affect students’ attitudes toward community service, can increase students’ motivation to learn and ability to internalize class material, and can change their view of social issues. Studies also suggest that college students sometimes enter and leave a field site in ways that contribute to the reproduction of inequality. In this paper, we draw on three years of data from a service-learning project that involves sending college-age students (most of whom are white and materially privileged) into local, predominantly black, high-poverty neighborhoods to participate in community gardening. Using data generated by student assignments, we draw on service-learning research and critical race/whiteness scholarship to explore whether altering service-learning pedagogical tactics influences how students conceptualize and talk about race or if status factors, such as a student’s own race, gender, and/or class, intersect to have greater impact on the racial logics they employ.
In this article we employ whiteness as a conceptual framework to contextualize how faculty develop and implement, and consequently how students experience, service learning. A vignette that illustrates the pervasiveness of whiteness in service learning is followed by an analysis that details how whiteness frames the teaching and learning in this service learning experience. Through this example and analysis, we seek to increase instructors’ capacity and confidence to interrupt the patterns and privileges of whiteness that too often are normalized in service learning.
It's no surprise that schools in wealthy communities are better than those in poor communities, or that they better prepare their students for desirable jobs. It may be shocking, however, to learn how vast the differences in schools are -not so much in resources as in teaching methods and philosophies of education. Jean Anyon observed five elementary schools over the course of a full school year and concluded that fifth-graders of different economic backgrounds are already being prepared to occupy particular rungs on the social ladder. In a sense, some whole schools are on the vocational education track, while others are geared to produce future doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. Anyon's main audience is professional educators, so you may find her style and vocabulary challenging, but, once you've read her descriptions of specific classroom activities, the more analytic parts of the essay should prove easier to understand. Anyon is chairperson of the Department of Education at Rutgers University, Newark; This essay first appeared in Journal of Education, volume 162, no. 1, in the Fall 1980 edition. Scholars in political economy and the sociology of knowledge have recently argued that public schools in complex industrial societies like our own make available different types of educational experience and curriculum knowledge to students in different social classes. Bowles and Gintis 1 for example, have argued that students in different social-class backgrounds are rewarded for classroom behaviors that correspond to personality traits allegedly rewarded in the different occupational strata--the working classes for docility and obedience, the managerial classes for initiative and personal assertiveness. Basil Bernstein, Pierre Bourdieu, and Michael W. Apple focusing on school knowledge, have argued that knowledge and skills leading to social power and regard (medical, legal, managerial) are made available to the advantaged social groups but are withheld from the working classes to whom a more "practical" curriculum is offered (manual skills, clerical knowledge). While there has been considerable argumentation of these points regarding education in England, France, and North America, there has been little or no attempt to investigate these ideas empirically in elementary or secondary schools and classrooms in this country. 3 This article offers tentative empirical support (and qualification) of the above arguments by providing illustrative examples of differences in student work in classrooms in contrasting social class communities. The examples were gathered as part of an ethnographical 4 study of curricular, pedagogical, and pupil evaluation practices in five elementary schools. The article attempts a theoretical contribution as well and assesses student work in the light of a theoretical approach to social-class analysis.. . It will be suggested that there is a "hidden curriculum" in schoolwork that has profound implications for the theory -and consequence -of everyday activity in education....
The authors synthesize what has been learned from the two-issue series of American Behavioral Scientist on universities' responses to troubled times. They argue that educators and community leaders should channel the vast resources of volunteerism toward social change for a more just society and discuss ways that service-learning endeavors contribute to this process. They contrast the current state of higher education with a vision of a transformed institution they think preferable to the status quo and then focus on the difference between charity and social justice. Through service learning, acts of charity—which typically end up reproducing the status quo—can facilitate the politicization of students and help them to become active promoters of a more just society. Six questions are posed to assess the extent to which community-based education or research endeavors engage in charity or facilitate social justice.
In a 1992 Calvin and Hobbs cartoon (Watterson), 6-year-old Calvin asks his teacher whether he is being adequately prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. He wants to know if he will have the skills and competencies that will allow him to succeed in a tough, global economy. In response, the teacher suggests he start working harder because what he will get out of school depends on how much effort he puts into it. Calvin ponders this advice for a moment and says, "Then forget it." The exchange between Calvin and his teacher gets right to the point about what matters to student learning and personal development. Indeed, one of the few unequivocal conclusions from How College Affects Students (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) is that the amount of time and energy students put forth-student engagement-is positively linked with the desired outcomes of undergraduate education. Unfortunately, Calvin's response is all too common, if not according to what students say, then by what they do or do not do. In this paper, I summarize the role and contributions of the scholarship and institutional research about student engagement and its relevance for student development professionals and others committed to enhancing the quality of the undergraduate experience. The presentation is organized into four major sections. First, I briefly describe the evolution of the student engagement concept and explain its importance to student development. Then, I summarize findings from research studies about the relationships between student engagement and selected activities including participation in high-impact practices, employment, and some other experiences of relevant a relevance to the current generation of undergraduates. Next, I discuss some topics that warrant additional investigation to better understand how to further potential and utility of student engagement research and institutional policies and practices that the findings suggest. I close with some observations about the implications of student engagement research for student affairs professionals and others on campus committed to improving the quality of undergraduate education. Student engagement represents the time and effort students devote to activities that are empirically linked to desired outcomes of college and what institutions do to induce students to participate in these activities (Kuh, 2001, 2003, 2009). The meaning and applications of this definition of student engagement have evolved over time to represent increasingly complex understandings of the relationships between desired outcomes of college and the amount of time and effort students invest in their studies and other educationally purposeful activities (Kuh, 2009; Wolf-Wendel, Ward, & Kinzie, 2009). For example, building on Tyler's "time on task" concept (Merwin, 1969), Pace (1980, 1984) developed the College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ) to measure "quality of effort" to identify the activities that contributed to various dimensions of student learning and personal development. His research across three decades (1960 to 1990) showed that students gained more from their studies and other aspects of the college experience when they devoted more time and energy to certain tasks that required more effort than others-studying, interacting with their peers and teachers about substantive matters, applying their learning to concrete situations and tasks in different contexts, and so forth (Pace, 1984, 1990). Astin (1984) further fleshed out and popularized the quality of effort concept with his "theory of involvement," which highlighted the psychological and behavioral dimensions of time on task and quality of effort. His landmark longitudinal studies about the impact of college on students empirically demonstrated the links between involvement and a range of attitudinal and developmental outcomes (Astin, 1977, 1993). Astin was a major contributor to the widely cited Involvement in Learning report (National Institute of Education, 1984) which underscored the importance of involvement to student achievement and such other valued outcomes as persistence and educational attainment (Astin, 1999). In that same decade, after an invitational conference of scholars and educators held at the Wingspread Conference Center in Wisconsin, Chickering and Gamson (1987) distilled the discussions about the features of high-quality teaching and learning settings into seven good practices in undergraduate education: (a) student-faculty contact, (b) active learning, (c) prompt feedback, (d) time on task, (e) high expectations, (f ) respect for diverse learning styles, and (g...
Photocopy. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison, 2000. Includes bibliographical references (p. 256-268).
Mapping the margins: Identity politics, intersectionality, and violence against women. Stanford Law Review
  • K Crenshaw
Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Identity politics, intersectionality, and violence against women. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299.
Writing ethnographic fieldnotes
  • R M Emerson
  • R I Fretz
  • L L Shaw
Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
On critical pedagogy
  • H A Giroux
Giroux, H. A. (2011). On critical pedagogy. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Political consciousness but not political engagement: Results from a service-learning study
  • D Harker
Harker, D. (2016). Political consciousness but not political engagement: Results from a service-learning study. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 22(2), 31-47.
Liberating service learning and the rest of higher education civic engagement
  • R Stoecker
Stoecker, R. (2016). Liberating service learning and the rest of higher education civic engagement. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Adventures with text and beyond: Education for empowerment: The link between multiple literacies and critical consciousness
  • P L Thomas
  • S Hubbard
Thomas, P. L., & Hubbard, S. (2013). Adventures with text and beyond: Education for empowerment: The link between multiple literacies and critical consciousness. The English Journal, 102(4), 98-102.