Education in America has had an interesting history that has vacillated between believing that children are born "bad" (the Bible), or born "good" (Rousseau) or simply born into preexisting circumstances that create and replicate more of the same.
All of the past discussions have led us to where we are today and the present conversation is all about education and power. It is about how those in power keep their power by maintaining the current structures which ensure their dominance. The term ideological hegemony has been thrown around quite a bit during class - and has become my new favorite expression. Why? Because it proves that those who are "educated" can toss about some five dollar words and seem "smart" when it is simply a fancy term for keeping people in their place.
The idea of critical theory and social justice is one that some educators are bringing into the classroom. There are five stages of social justice education.
1) Self-love and acceptance
2) Respect for Others
3) Exploring Issues of Social InJustice
4) Social Movements and Social Change
5) Taking Social Action
The first is one that is very appropriate for kindergarten students (as is the second). My social justice guru recommended the Dr. Seuss book My Book About Me for ushering young ones into an awareness of themselves & their families and to learn about different aspects of their identity.
So, I am working on figuring out a way to get a copy of this book for each child in my class. Perhaps if we cultivate a generation of students who truly love themselves we can begin to make strides towards shifting the sometimes impenetrable walls that keep the oppressed from the privileged. And maybe we will have a generation of shiny happy people like Justin (pictured above).