This beautifully written, powerfully argued book compels educators to think about more than the learning our students have lost. It considers instead what our students might gain in learning contexts that focus on much more than the critical learning gap. The authors make plain that this gap isn’t a gap at all, but an apparatus tooled with formalist meanings: memorizing facts, speaking in textbook English, writing structured essays that may be vacuous in content as long as the preferred features are present, and so forth.
Allison Skerrett and Peter Smagorinsky have dared to write a war manual for justice-centered educators. I am overjoyed by their unapologetic commitment to name the moment while providing tangible examples of what K–12 educators have done in their classrooms to continue the struggle for accuracy and critical reflection through literacy. These are tough times, but white supremacy doesn’t have a chance if we take the authors’ lessons seriously.
Upending the deficit narrative of learning loss, combating broken approaches to racial equity, and wading deep into the contested waters of democratic principles of learning within today’s schools, Allison Skerrett and Peter Smagorinsky offer an accessible guidebook for making our classrooms sites of justice and joy. Perhaps most important, theirs is a book that reveals classroom practices as they really are—the voices of teachers are situated as co-authors in this important journey.
I love this book. It is both practical and inspiring, providing examples of thematic units that show how teachers can facilitate students’ inquiry into issues that matter to them including identity, activism, cultural and racial conflict, and patriotism. It’s full of questions for students, guidelines for teachers, resources, hands-on examples, and the kinds of student-created artifacts that show readers exactly what critical social inquiry looks like in the high school classroom.