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Learning to Liberate: Community-Based Solutions to the Crisis in Urban Education (Critical Social Thought)
Synopses & Reviews
There are few more pressing problems in education than the crisis that is affecting urban schools. Extremely high drop-out rates and rates of incarceration among poor and minoritized youth, alienation from schools and other institutions, unemployment and the list could and does go on and on. All of these make it very hard to make a difference within urban schools. National policies surrounding privatization and marketization and more testing more often argue that the only solutions involve blaming teachers, placing schools in a competitive relationship with each other, turning to the private sector, and ratcheting up the pressure on teachers and students. In spite of a landscape that is both bleak and nihilistic, Learning to Liberate presents true and compelling portraits of educators who succeed without these methods.
Drawing upon over three years of ethnographic research, Vajra Watson demonstrates how nontraditional educators are teaching for social change and how, in the process, they are revealing the ways disenfranchised youth can be schooled and empowered. Using portraiture, a unique methodology rooted in vivid storytelling, Watson shows the complicated process of youth engagement. Each portrait forms a chapter that provides rich descriptions of each practice and practitioner, thematic in-depth interviews, and document analysis. Watson explores and analyzes each educator 's distinct pedagogies and tactics for working with students and then ties together the unique narratives to create a theoretically grounded framework with practical strategies for a broad audience. A poignant, insightful, and practical analysis, Learning to Liberate is a timely resource for all educators who are committed to transforming at-risk youth into at-promise individuals who put their agency and potential into action in their schools and communities.
Few problems in education are as pressing as the severe crisis in urban schools. Though educators have tried a wide range of remedies, dismal results persist. This is especially true for low-income youth of color, who drop out of school and into incarceration at extremely high rates. The dual calamity of underachievement in schools and violence in many communities across the country is often met with blame and cynicism, and with a host of hurtful and unproductive quick fixes: blaming educators, pitting schools against each other, turning solely to the private sector, and ratcheting up the pressure on teachers and students. But real change will not be possible until we shift our focus from finding fault to developing partnerships, from documenting problems to discovering solutions. Learning to Liberate does just that by presenting true and compelling community-based approaches to school reform.
Drawing on over three years of ethnographic research, Vajra Watson explores the complicated process of reaching and teaching today's students. She reveals how four nontraditional educators successfully empower young people who have repeatedly been left behind. Using portraiture, a methodology rooted in vivid storytelling, Watson analyzes each educator's specific teaching tactics. Uncovering four distinct pedagogies of communication, community, compassion, and commitment she then pulls together their key strategies to create a theoretically grounded framework that is both useful and effective. A poignant, insightful, and practical analysis, Learning to Liberate is a timely resource for all educators and youth-serving practitioners who are committed to transforming at-risk youth into at-promise individuals who put their agency and potential into action in their schools and neighborhoods.
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