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Teaching and Learning on the Verge

Democratic Education in Action

Shanti Elliott

240 pages
Teachers College Press
Our changing world demands that all students become agile thinkers who can develop sturdy interpersonal and civic relationships. This book proposes that teachers who think of learning as “playing with power” tap into the creative and subversive energies of young people, making academic work far more consequential than a piece of paper with a grade on it. Young people must learn to play democracy just as they might play a violin or a sport, not as a game of “let’s pretend,” but participating fully in the language, spaces, and possibilities of public life. Based on 20 years of teaching experience and research in schools across the country (including Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy in Chicago, June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco, and Urban Academy in New York), Teaching and Learning on the Verge demonstrates how educators in all disciplines can integrate civic engagement, multicultural literacy, and leadership into their classrooms and programs. Featuring voices from literature and philosophy in dialogue with the living stage of classrooms, streets, and community spaces, this book offers an imaginative and practical guide to democratic education. Teaching and Learning on the Verge will help educators to: Apply models for breaking down walls between school and society. Provide students with experiences that deepen their understanding of identity, justice, and relationships. Make learning meaningful to students by bridging communities, generations, and other social divides. Resist a narrow focus on achievement and make space for students as independent thinkers and leaders of social change. Make schools stronger by challenging the processes that people in power use to thwart movements for equality.
Author Bio
Shanti Elliott directs the civic engagement program at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago. She also co-leads the Teachers’ Inquiry Project and teaches at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.