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July 05 , 2008

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Community Activism as Curriculum


How do educators engage students in community action projects without telling them what to think, how to think, or what to do? Is it possible to integrate social justice organizing into the curriculum without imposing one’s political views on students? In Actions Speak Louder than Words, longtime activist and teacher educator Celia Oyler delves into such questions through firsthand accounts of social action projects. By moving beyond charity work or volunteerism, she shows how community activism projects offer fertile ground for practicing democratic engagement as part of classroom work.

Actions Speak Louder than Words is a systematic, qualitative study offering in-depth and detailed portraits of teachers who design social action projects as part of the regular classroom curriculum. Each case forms a chapter organized as a narrative that includes excerpts from classroom dialogues, and interviews with students, teachers, and parents describing their social action projects with sufficient detail to give educators guidance for designing such projects for their own classrooms. The final chapter examines power, pedagogy, and learning outcomes across the cases, providing specific guidance to educators wishing to take up such projects and offering instructional and procedural advice as well as cautions. A fresh new example of taking up the challenge to teach toward equity and social justice, Actions Speak Louder than Words is an invaluable resource for educators who are passionate about the possibility of integrating activism and advocacy into curriculum as a means to engage in strong democracy.

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