Teaching Critical Literacy for Social Justice

Winter 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 4, (Winter 2010) p. 54-65.

The current paper explores learning experiences utilized in an adolescent literacy course to facilitate preservice teachers' development of knowledge and dispositions to teach critical literacy for social justice.
Accordingly, this article investigates the following research question: What kinds of learning experiences foster preservice teachers' knowledge and dispositions to teach critical literacy for social justice?

Research Design and Methodology
This inquiry was conducted using self-study method (Dinkleman, 2003) that follow the tradition of naturalistic inquiry methods (Bullough & Pinnegar, 2001).

The course is offered at a large university in the Southwest. It is a certification requirement for secondary English teacher candidates and one of two literacy courses from which secondary social-studies-history preservice teachers may choose

Conclusion: Discussion and Implications

This analysis has identified the importance of engaging preservice teachers in studying social justice issues. Involving preservice teachers in doing inquiry into social justice concerns facilitated significant growth in the depth and variety of the learning they experienced.
The majority of the teacher candidates were considering the benefits that such projects promised students—benefits that they themselves enjoyed. Through their experiential learning, the preservice teachers encountered challenges that their future students might face when conducting such inquiries, and they worked with their peers to develop strategies to overcome them.

The author concludes with implications for teacher educators.
The author recommends that teacher educators collaborate across various courses to provide preservice teacher with coursework and field experiences that support teaching for social justice may help strengthen preservice teachers' knowledge and dispositions in this regard. Furthermore, all teacher educators may consider the relationship of social justice to their course foci and teaching practices.

One way in which teacher educators can support social justice teaching across teacher education course is by candidly examining with preservice teachers the tensions and dilemmas they identify as they encounter new perspectives on and practices of teaching.
Another way that teacher educators can foster preservice teachers' agency to teach critical literacy for social justice is to explore with them more models of educator who successfully teach for social justice in both traditional and exceptional schooling contexts and in a variety of academic disciplines.

Bullough, R. V., Jr., & Pinnegar, S. (2001). Guidelines for quality in autobiographical forms of self-study research. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 13–21.

Dinkleman, T (2003). Self-study in teacher education: A means and ends tool for promoting reflective teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 6–18.

Updated: Jul. 26, 2011