The National Association for Multicultural Education
Advancing and Advocating for Social Justice & Equity
Social Justice Action
Students recognize their own responsibility to resist exclusion, prejudice and injustice in their everyday lives, despite pressure from others to do otherwise or displeasure from those around them who may thwart their efforts for social justice. Based on an analysis of roots of discrimination and colonization, and working as allies for equity and justice, they plan and carry out strategies of participatory democratic activism, and evaluate the effectiveness of various strategies. For teachers, this means learning activism in one's own life.
Third grade teacher Pang Xiong describes her own trajectory of learning to become an activist.
Evidence shows that through community-based experiences and explicit teaching in the context of disciplines, students of color can learn to recognize their own responsibility to resist injustice in everyday life, despite pressure from others to do otherwise or prior socialization.
Watch third grade teacher Pang Xiong scaffold a social action project with her students
Fourth grade teacher Marisol Moreno discusses forms of activism her students have learned in her class
Evidence shows that through community-based projects, or curriculum and pedagogy that weaves social action throughout, students can learn to plan and carry out strategies of participatory democratic activism that work for social justice in their own environment.
Ginwright, S. & Cammarota, J. (2007). Youth activism in the urban community: Learning critical civic praxis within community organizations. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 20(6): 693-710. Study of how urban youth of color, working in community-based organizations, developed critical consciousness and sense of agency through relationships with adult community members working in organizations that challenged public policy.
Gutstein, E. (2007). “And that’s just how it starts”: Teaching mathematics and developing student agency. Teachers College Record 109(2): 420-448. Two-year practitioner study of impact of social justice mathematics on working class Latino/a middle school students. Found that embedding social justice projects and issues related to students’ lives in mathematics helped them begin to see themselves as actors, and to see mathematics as a tool for understanding the world.
Strobel, L. M. (2001). Coming full circle: The process of decolonization among post-1965 Filipino Americans. Quezon City: Giraffe Books. Study of the impact on Filipino students of learning about the histories of colonialism within an Ethnic Studies context, and how this process developed their commitment to social action.
Cammarota, J., & Romero, A. (2009). The Social Justice Education Project: A critically compassionate intellectualism for Chicana/o students. In W. Ayers, T. Quinn & D. Stovall (Eds.), Handbook for social justice education (p. 465-476). New York: Routledge. Describes how community-based research projects used in a Mexican American studies program in four high schools enabled students to act on issues, in school and in the community, of concern to them.
Leeman, J., Rabin, L., & Román-Mendoza, E. (2011). Identity and activism in heritage language education. The Modern Language Journal 95: 481-495. Case study of impact of critical service learning on university level heritage Spanish speakers' sense of identity and agency.
Storms, S. B. (2012). Preparing students for social action in a social justice education course: What works? Equity & Excellence in Education 45(4): 547-560. Interviews with 6 university students, after completing a course in social justice education, revealed that experiential activities related to students lives had more impact in helping them develop social action tools than classroom content.
Silvers, P. & Shorey, M. C. (2012). Many texts, many voices: Teaching literacy and social justice to young learners in the digital age. Stenhouse Publishers. Book describing how a primary grade teacher uses her standards-aligned curriculum, pedagogy and technology to engage students in examining and acting on various social justice issues throughout the school year, and the impact of this ongoing work on students.