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Education for Social Change. EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods. Small group discussions. Individually, what do you do to change the status quo, to challenge inequities in our society, inequality in power and socio-economic status. What do you perceive as your personal role in effecting change?.

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Education for social change

Education for Social Change

EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods

Small group discussions
Small group discussions

  • Individually, what do you do to change the status quo, to challenge inequities in our society, inequality in power and socio-economic status. What do you perceive as your personal role in effecting change?

The status quo
The Status Quo

  • Hegemony - a system of laws, policies, ideologies, institutions and behaviors that supports the status quo.

  • Education that purports to be “neutral” supports the status quo. Not encouraging students to question knowledge and society tacitly supports the status quo.

Education is politics
Education is politics

  • Why does the government enforce mandatory schooling on its citizens? Whose history and literature is taught and whose is ignored? Which groups are left in or out of the reading lists? From whose point of view is the past examined? Is the curriculum balanced and multicultural, giving equal attention to men, women, minorities, and non-elite groups, or is it male-oriented and Eurocentric? Do we spend more time studying photosynthesis or the biochemistry of our food supply, or the toxins in our local air, water, and land?

School funding and testing is politics
School funding and testing is politics

  • More public money is invested in upper class students and elite collegians than is spent on lower-income students and in community colleges. Testing policies support standardized exams in which women and minorities have traditionally scored lower than men and majority students.

What is empowering education
What is empowering education?

  • Empowering education is a critical pedagogy that challenges the existing status quo and asks students to engage in a critical inquiry of society, power, inequality, and change.

Values of empowering pedagogy
Values of Empowering Pedagogy

  • Participatory

  • Affective

  • Problem-posing

  • Situated

  • Multicultural

  • Dialogic

  • Desocializing

  • Democratic

  • Researching

  • Interdisciplinary

  • Activist


  • Non-participatory schools depress achievement levels, leading to low student achievement and teacher burnout.

  • Dewey argued that students must participate in both the constructing the purposes and meaning of their education.


  • In small groups, develop a plan to engage students in constructing course results, assessments, teaching and learning plans, and classroom rules.

  • What issues are inherent in empowering student participation in their education?

  • How can teachers model empowerment?


  • Empowering education engages both the cognitive and affective domains. Critical thought is simultaneously an affective and cognitive process - play, humor, hope, conflict, and sorrow are purposely interwoven and an integral part of constructing understandings, developing knowledge and skills.

An example
An Example

  • Author Tim O’Brien’s, “How to Tell a True War Story”


  • In groups, plan a lesson (big idea) based on the Minnesota Standards that relies heavily on engaging the affective domain as a way to foster student understanding, knowledge, or skills.

Problem posing

  • Dewey and Piaget both advocated for active, inquiring education, through which students constructed learning rather than memorize facts. Freire built on this and suggested that teachers be “problem-posers”.

Problem posing ii
Problem-posing II

  • Freire decried traditional education as a “banking” model where knowledge is kept in texts and academicians and deposited into students. He said educators need to cast the old model off and use problem-posing, whereby we regard all subject matter as historical products to be questioned rather than as universal wisdom to be accepted.

Problem posing iii
Problem-posing III

  • Freire further said the banking model was anti-democratic because it subordinates and denies marginalized cultures all the while promoting the status quo. Liberation, he said, is a praxis: the action and reflection of humans upon their world in order to transform it.

Freire s problem posing model
Freire’s problem-posing model

  • In a Freirian classroom, teachers don’t reinvent traditional knowledge; they study it in a critical context which is democratic (participatory) using a multicultural syllabus.


  • In your groups, apply Freire’s problem-posing model to a big idea imbedded in the Minnesota Social Studies Standards.


  • Empowering education situates curriculum in issues and language from everyday life. Themes are:

    • Generative - discussion among teacher and students

    • Topical - teacher derived

    • Academic - derived from the literature


  • Brainstorm among yourselves ways of developing generative, topical and academic themes which touch on an aspect of the Minnesota Standards.


  • An education that is situated in the issues and language of everyday life is by its very nature multicultural.


  • Empowering teachers talk with students, not to them. Mutual dialogue encourages critical thinking and aids students in constructing their own meanings, and develops the intellectual and affective powers to think about transforming society.

Balancing teacher talk and free wheeling discussion
Balancing teacher talk and free-wheeling discussion

  • What are some ways to avoid the silence engendered by teacher talk and free-wheeling, random discussions?


  • Empowering education is desocializing, from mass culture, from regressive values absorbed from mass media such as racism, sexism, class prejudice, homophobia, self-reliant individualism, excessive consumerism, authority-dependence, celebrations of militarism, and so on.

Critical consciousness
Critical Consciousness

  • By being desocializing, empowering education encourages the development of critical consciousness, to both know and transform their individual world and society.


  • The purpose of a democratic education is to increase students’ abilities to make meaning from their own experience and to act on it.


  • Empowering education does research (primary data) set in the communities where students live. The research is intended to affect social change.


  • Empowering education crosses academic disciplines, modeling real-life.


  • Critical pedagogy is activist in its questioning of the status quo, in its participatory methods, and in its insistence that knowledge is not fixed but constantly changing.

Critical pedagogy ubd assignment
Critical Pedagogy UbD Assignment

  • Design a backward design lesson which incorporates elements of critical pedagogy, using the Minnesota or Wisconsin Standards in Social Studies.