Teaching for Justice
This fall I was on a panel at my district’s fall professional development day called “Teaching Controversial Issues.” I was not sure why I was on this panel. Teaching and social justice work are synonymous to me. I am not immune to that nagging doubt, that (parent/principal) voice in the back of my mind questioning the work I do, but I do it anyway. Class, race, gender, age, sexuality, ability determine our access to power and privilege and students need intellectual and humane tools to talk about intersectional identities, their own and others’.Т Teaching critical reading and argumentative writing requires learners to dig into the complicated ideas of our time. PAGES afforded much space to do this work this fall.Т Cindy Sherman whetted many of my students’ appetites for feminist perspectives. Coupling arts integration work with choice reading (Roxane Gay, Jill Lepore, Joan Didion, HRC, PatriciaТ J. Williams, Mary Karr, Phoebe Robinson, John Krakauer, Hope Jahren, Kate Bornstein, Jessi Klein, Peggy Orenstein, and Rebecca Traister) nurtured authentic curiosity in these complex issues we face today. Am I teachingТ controversial issues?
To prepare forТ I Am Not Your Negro, I wanted to be certain that students would have a grounded understanding in theТ ways that Raoul Peck parallels contemporary vilified movements for racial justice with the lauded movementsТ of the past. We did a unit on understanding Black Lives Matter.
This unit brought us closer together as a class confronting difficult issues.Т
This unit really helped me connect to my mother more.Т
I personally loved this unit. It helped me explore who I am and educate myself.Т
We have the right to peaceful protest in our nation…”nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Silence cannot make change. Even though I am less directly affected, I have a role in change and need to figure out what it is.Т
Teaching controversial issues is not scary; it’s nurturing, transforming, empowering. Am I teaching controversial issues?