Tag Archives: Social Studies

New book: Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies, and Social Education

Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies, and Social Education
New Perspectives for Social Studies Education

Edited by:
Abraham P. DeLeon
University of Texas, San Antonio, USA
E. Wayne Ross
University of British Columbia, Canada

Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies, and Social Education: New Perspectives for Social Studies Education begins with the assertion that there are emergent and provocative theories and practices that should be part of the discourse on social studies education in the 21st century. Anarchist, eco-activist, anti-capitalist, and other radical perspectives, such as disability studies and critical race theory, are explored as viable alternatives in responding to current neo-conservative and neo-liberal educational policies shaping social studies curriculum and teaching.

Despite the interdisciplinary nature the field and a historical commitment to investigating fundamental social issues such as democracy, human rights, and social justice, social studies theory and practice tends to be steeped in a reproductive framework, celebrating and sustaining the status quo, encouraging passive acceptance of current social realities and historical constructions, rather than a critical examination of alternatives. These tendencies have been reinforced by education policies such as No Child Left Behind, which have narrowly defined ways of knowing as rooted in empirical science and apolitical forms of comprehension.

This book comes at a pivotal moment for radical teaching and for critical pedagogy, bringing the radical debate occurring in social sciences and in activist circles—where global protests have demonstrated the success that radical actions can have in resisting rigid state hierarchies and oppressive regimes worldwide—to social studies education.

Acknowledgement: Through Collaboration, All Things are Possible

Introduction: On the Edge of History: Towards a New Vision of Social Studies Education
Abraham P. DeLeon and E. Wayne Ross

1. Anarchism, Sabotage, and the Spirit of Revolt: Injecting the Social Studies with Anarchist Potentialities
Abraham P. DeLeon

2. Embattled Pedagogies: Deconstructing Terror from a Transnational Feminist Disability Studies Perspective
Nirmala Erevelles

3. Ecojustice, Community-based Learning, and Social Studies Education
Rebecca A. Martusewicz and Gary R. Schnakenberg

4. Why have School?: An Inquiry through Dialectical Materialism
Rich Gibson

5. Gumbo and Menudo and the Scraps of Citizenship: Interest Convergence and Citizen-making for African Americans and Mexican Americans in U.S. Education
Anthony Brown and Luis Urrieta, Jr.

6. “The Concrete Inversion of Life”: Guy Debord, the Spectacle, and Critical Social Studies Education
Kevin D. Vinson, E. Wayne Ross and Melissa B. Wilson

7. Critically Examining the Past and the “Society of the Spectacle”: Social Studies Education as a Site of Critique, Resistance, and Transformation
Brad J. Porfilio and Michael Watz

8. The Long Emergency: Educating for Democracy and Sustainability during Our Global Crisis
David Hursh

9. Building Democracy through Education: Human Rights and Civic Engagement
William T. Armaline

10. Critical Reflection in the Classroom: Consciousness, Praxis, and Relative Autonomy in Social Studies Education
Wayne Au

11. The Radical and Theoretical in Social Studies
Stephen C. Fleury

Download PDF of book Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2 here.

Detroit, America’s Most Epic Urban Failure

[Above image: “Detroit Industry” – Detroit Institute of Arts ( Diego Rivera ) – View 1, from DetroitDerek’s Flickr photostream.]

Over the past decade or so, I’ve visited Detroit many times, so as I read Mark Binelli’s profile of this dying city in the most recent Rolling Stone (#1073) there was a lot of resonance with my Motown experiences.

The article, of course, focuses on the auto industry, the government bailouts and Binelli uses a visit to the Detroit Auto Show to explore the decline of the industry and the city. But the most compelling part of the article describes a tour of the deindustrial wastelands of downtown Detroit that Binelli takes with Detroitblogger John to see abandoned factories, houses, and office buildings; grassy fields, which used to be crowded working and middle class residential neighborhoods and are now homes to coyotes and other wild life.

Check out photos at DetroitBlog.org or KenTakesPictures “Detroit” Flickr photoset or Derek Farr’s “Detroit Ruins” Flickr photoset to get an idea of what Detroit looks like these days. (KenTakesPictures describes the areas around the old GM factories as resembling scenes from 28 Days Later and Mogadishu)

You can also explore disappeared Detroit here and here.

Binelli vaguely hints at but doesn’t explore Detroit’s spirit of resistance, which is too bad because the history of the city is in many ways a history of resistance. There’s no doubt that Detroit is ground zero of the urban crisis in the US, but it is also home to many people who have and continue to work against racism, labor exploitation, and other inequalities.

Detroit’s also the birthplace of The Rouge Forum, which drew inspiration for it’s name from Detroit’s River Rouge and the River Rouge auto factory, which at one time was the largest factory in the world.

“The Rouge is both nature and work. The Rouge has never quit; it moves with the resilience of the necessity for labor to rise out of nature itself. The river and the plant followed the path of industrial life throughout the world. The technological advances created at the Rouge, in some ways, led to better lives. In other ways, technology was used to forge the privilege of the few, at the expense of most–and the ecosystems, which brought it to life, The Rouge is a good place to consider a conversation, education, and social action.”

Join us at the Rouge Forum annual conference this May, we’ll be meeting at Eastern Michigan University in Yspilanti, close enough for a quick trip to Detroit.

[Rich Gibson has a good collection links that explore the urban, and particularly the educational, crises in Detroit at his web site.]

NCSS continues to advocate for government mandated high-stakes testing

Despite the research illustrating deleterious effects of high-stakes testing on teaching and learning, the National Council for the Social Studies continues to be an advocate for it.

NCSS, the largest group of social studies education professionals in the world, and it’s state level affiliates, use the perverted logic that the only way to preserve social studies courses in the curriculum is for those courses to be included in mandated high-stakes testing schemes.

The latest example of this perversion of education is in Massachusetts, where the state plans to either eliminate or delay required history and social science exams for 10th graders.

In response, the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies has started a campaign to the save the tests! And the NCSS Board of Directors has sent an letter to the Mass. Board of Education stressing the importance of implementing the proposed exams as scheduled.

The logic is apparently that state mandated high-stakes exams are a way for governments to show their commitment to social studies. But do we need social studies courses that narrow the curriculum to what is on the exam? That undermine teacher professionalism by turning teachers into clerks for the state, whose job it is to feed students exam answers?

The idea that NCSS’s raison d’être—the promotion of “democratic citizenship”—is advanced by students and teachers willingly participating in a scheme that reduces education to scores is absurd.