International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Social (In)Justice

Volume 29 of the series Springer International Handbooks of Education pp 667-683


Schools for Justice in the United States

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In the history of American education, adult schools for social justice are a little-noticed, but important development that brings into focus ways education can promote social change. Since the early twentieth century, these schools created an alternative pedagogy to help “ordinary” people understand their subordinate place in society, the sources of their oppression, and to think about ways to become empowered in liberation struggles. Attention is focused on schools for immigrants, workers, radicals, civil rights activists, and women. Working-class adults often embraced collectivist traditions, stressing mutual aid. Visions of social transformation based on universalistic values and personal expression are most effective when combined with an approach that privileges solidarity in groups and identifies and confronts power structures.