Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Michael J. Berson

Keywords

Critical Pedagogy, Secondary Education, Social Justice, Social Studies

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the perspectives of five secondary social studies educators who identified with teaching for social justice. The following research questions guided the study: How do educators who identify with social justice perceive teaching for social justice?; In what ways do educators who identify with social justice facilitate a social justice education?; What experiences prompt educators to teach for social justice in the classroom?; In what ways are educators challenged and rewarded while facilitating a social justice curriculum within the secondary social studies classroom? This qualitative study employed semi-structured interview questions and was conceptually-framed within critical pedagogy. The study provided participants the opportunity to: (1) explore their own perspectives on social justice as both a theory and pedagogy, (2) reflect on the qualities they bring to the classroom regarding social justice, and (3) familiarize others with challenges and rewards as they relate to teaching for social justice. While the study served to further investigate the overarching theme of teaching for social justice, findings revealed: commonalities in how participants define and interpret social justice as both a content and a pedagogy and how they facilitate a social justice approach in the classroom; similarities in the influential power of experiences in the lives of participants and the role these experiences played in both their personal and professional lives; the idea of exposure in that content and people with whom participants were exposed influenced their personal interpretations and understandings; teaching for social justice is not always implemented easily and without challenge, yielding courage and the commitment to stand up for what one believes. While critics argue against this framework and point out its vague and under theorized meaning, the study serves to argue that teaching for social justice is inclusive and practical in nature and serves to promote equity and justice. Included within the study are implications based on the findings and the researcher's interpretations providing recommendations for other researchers, social studies educators that may want to frame future research on similar topics, and recommendations for social studies teacher education programs on implementing and facilitating teaching for social justice.

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