Reading, Writing, and Rising Up
On the whole, we liked Reading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen a lot. We weren’t expecting the amount of narrative that was present in the book, and the peer dynamics and student-teacher connections that the author described.
We liked the specific examples of social justice oriented lesson plans and how to incorporate social justice into our classrooms. However, it left us with a lot of questions about how to incorporate social justice into a classroom where students aren’t from the areas or situations Christensen was teaching in. We also were left questioning how to grade writing and narratives, especially those that Christensen encouraged were for the purpose of expression and discussion. If we ran our own classrooms completely, without anyone else to answer to, we could use all of the lesson plans and lead extremely social justice conscious classrooms just the way Christensen described (and it would be absolutely lovely), but the reality is the book doesn’t offer a lot of alternative assignments that aren’t so intensive.
But on the whole, we loved the book. Particular lesson ideas that we liked were the Tea Party (making students interact as if they were characters from the books they read at a Tea Party), the re-examining of cartoons with a critical consciousness, and the Forgiveness Poems (which can even be adapted to write from characters’ perspectives). The connections Christensen made with her students are narratives that we hadn’t experienced in our limited realms of education thus far, and it was truly enlightening to see how transformative teaching can be. We also felt like Christensen’s book provides a good starting point of how one can look at social justice pedagogy, and we would recommend the book particularly for teachers or future teachers trying to get acclimated with social justice issues and how to incorporate them in the classroom.