While the goal is for all learners to have access to text and materials that represent, affirm, and sustain their diverse identities, it is most often not the reality. Often classrooms are limited in their resources and students are stuck with textbooks that are not only outdated, but are systematically laced with bias, promote stereotypes, center whiteness, and can be shaded by partisan politics. More current resources - articles, speeches, videos, TV shows, etc. - can also be sources that intentionally and unintentionally perpetuate narratives that harm people and devalue ways of being.
One remedy for this is to use the content at hand to help students flex their critical consciousness to interrogate and disrupt the narrative. Learners can use inquiry to uncover beliefs and agendas that are often unexamined and to expose the inaccuracies, gaps, minimization, and absence of information. Disrupting the text is a proactive way to utilize available materials, practice key learning strategies of questioning, making connections, and determining importance, AND build critical consciousness in all learners.
An important note:
This is a hack, a small disruption. It will not truly disrupt if it stands alone. And if done without an internal interrogation of biases by adults guiding the learning, it can do harm. To disrupt and lead to transformation, we must:
Disrupting the text directly supports the following competencies and skills from reDesign’s Global Competency Set:
Here are the questions.
In the graphic below, we list three sets of questions that help learners learn and practice how to read texts critically and disrupt bias: Establish the Context, Analyze the Content, and Analyze with Critical Consciousness (Freire, 1973). Your learners may already be asking these questions. For those who aren’t, with routine practice, they can learn to interrogate narratives with these questions until it becomes part of their natural inquiry process.
Establish the context.
Analyze the content.
Analyze with critical consciousness.
"Creativity follows mastery." These are the words of Benjamin Bloom, who believed that learners are capable of incredible things if they have access to powerful learning environments. This is why we’ve chosen the name “Bloom” for our knowledge-sharing initiative. Bloom is all about our stake in helping to build the capacity of practitioners and leaders who work with our most marginalized youth to reimagine, recreate, redesign our models for learning--within schools and beyond. For us, this is fundamentally a matter of social justice. Reach out if you’d like to submit a guest post, or sign up for our monthly newsletter: Bloom@reDesignu.org.