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Social Justice Approach

A social justice approach to teacher education begins with the idea that a central purpose of education is to redress social, economic, and political inequities. Its intellectual roots lie within a radical progressive tradition. In this conception, a good teacher understands socioeconomic and political forces that maintain structural inequalityand oppression, including how schools as institutions reinforce the status quo and further inequitable educational experiences. Given the centrality of race, ethnicity, and class in inequality, a social justice approach to teaching involves an ongoing commitment to grapple with these matters. A teacher for social justice enacts curriculum so that students develop both a critical social consciousness and the intellectual and practical tools to be agents of change. Students study the experiences of those who have been marginalized along with possibilities for liberation. The teacher also ensures that students learn skills and knowledge associated with the most powerful (cultural capital), thereby helping to promote access to all levels of society. Classrooms are democratic communities where the teacher helps construct an ethos of care and respect. Finally, a social justice teacher also embraces an identity as a community activist and sees this work as an extension of her teaching.