Ways to use the Social Justice Approach
The social justice approach does not always have to be confrontational. In fact, it is often difficult to see where social justice ends and transformative learning begins, as seen below.
- We can include the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our program content. What are its strengths? What does it leave out? How does it apply to our learners? How can it be used? How is it relevant? Why was it established in 1982? What has it meant to Canadians? What are some examples from your own experiences?
- We can include written or spoken case studies of problems arising from racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism and the prejudices of literacy classism. These can be a discussion of actual learner or teacher experiences; or, as seen in the transformative learning discussion earlier, relevant readings, either fictional or based in real life, can be followed with discussions that can raise highly relevant issues of rights and social justice. There are countless examples of issues and incidents that will resonate with the lives of our learners.
- We can invite guest speakers and have discussions germane to our learners’ lives, much the way Paulo Freire’s Cultural Circles did. As most adult literacy practitioners can attest, the world of our adult learners often involves incidents of injustice. This fact can open many teachable moments.
If we are cognizant of our professional boundaries; if we have a space that is safe and trusted; and if we know our learners and are cognizant of our programming expectations, literacy can open new doors for many learners.
@newswire. (2019, March 21). Frontier College calls for Canada to recognize literacy as a human right
[Blog post]. https://m.ceo.ca/@newswire/frontier-college-calls-for-canada-to-recognize-literacy
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Freire, P. (1973). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.
Jurmo, P. (2021). A different way: Reorienting adult education toward democracy and social justice. Syracuse, NY: ProLiteracy. https://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2021/04/19/17875987/ProLiteracy-WhitePaper-ADifferentWay-AdultEducationandSocialJustice.pdf
Pratt, D. (1998). Five perspectives on teaching in adult and higher education. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.
PRWeb. (2021). Adult education and social justice: ProLiteracy releases important white paper
[Press Release]. https://www.prweb.com/releases/adult_education_and_social_justice_proliteracy_releases_important_white_paper/prweb17875987.htm
Quigley, A. (2006). Building professional pride in literacy: A dialogical guide to professional development. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.
Quigley, A. (2020). The uncertain world of adult literacy: Reflections on twenty-five years of building action research networks in North America. In K. Clausen & G. Black (Eds.), The future of action research in education: A Canadian perspective (pp. 16-32). Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Zacharakis, J., Patterson, M., & Quigley, A. (2021). Working class, social class, and literacy classism. In T. Rocco, C. Smith, R. Mizzi, L. Merriweather, & J. Hawley (Eds.), The handbook of adult and continuing education (pp. 420-435). Sterling VA: Stylus Publishing.