Critical Pedagogy in Social Studies Education

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Since the early twentieth century, educational theorists and researchers debated often about topics concerning the validity, purposes, and best approach to public education and the social studies discipline in the United States. Since the adoption of Ralph Tyler’s teacher-centered, essentialist approach to curriculum, John Dewey’s call for progressive reform and student-centered learning, and Paolo Freire’s call for an education that advocates social change and the destruction of social oppression, education pundits found themselves stuck between different goals, outcomes, and possibilities for teaching social studies. A review of recent literature proves that one of the goals, critical literacy, oftentimes stands at the center of curriculum debates. Essentially, in order for one to understand the importance of critical literacy, one must ask, “What is critical literacy and why is it significant?” An abundance of literature attempted to place a definition on critical literacy. Researchers determined that a curriculum designed to meet the demands of critical literacy interacts with the way people, as members of a global community, national society, and local network look at and interact with the world around them (Wolk, 2003, p. 102; Wile, 2000, p. 171). Critical literacy enables students to question social institutions as they look at topics such as power, equality, empowerment, oppression, and democracy. By questioning these institutions, students also develop skills that make them more informed citizens (Wolk, 2003, p. 102; Kumashiro, 2001, pp. 9-11; Wineburg, et. al., 2004, p. 45). Additionally, a large component of critical literacy rests on a person’s ability to analyze certain controversial issues that remain of h... ... middle of paper ... ...the New York City public schools: A descriptive study. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 17(3), 206-231. Dotolo, F., & Nicolay, T. (2008). Approaching history through literature: Generating knowledge through writing and inquiry in a cross disciplinary first-year learning community. History Teacher, 42(1), 25-34. O'Brien, J. (1998). Using literary themes to develop historical perspective. Social Studies, 89(6), 276-280. Schon, I. (2004). From ancient Rome to the Intifada: Historical novels for Spanish-speaking adolescents. Social Studies, 95(2), 75. Turk, D. B., Klein, E., & Dickstein, S. (2007). Mingling "fact" with "fiction": Strategies for integrating literature into history and social studies classrooms. History Teacher, 40(3), 397-406. Vogler, K. (2003). Where does social studies fit in a high-stakes testing environment? Social Studies, 94(5), 207-211.
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