You love to make change happen. You like to take a risk. It’s often scary but the pay-off’s great. This page is filled with ideas and inspiration to kick start and support your action – to make a real difference in your education institution.
Practical Strategies & Ideas
It’s where you learn big time. Just outside your comfort zone. But what can you expect there? And how might you navigate the tensions and uncertainties?
I wanted to teach about sexual diversity. “You can’t do that,” they said. Here’s how to overcome the obstacles that they throw in the way of your DARING, INNOVATIVE IDEAS.
- That PASSION of yours, it comes through loud and true. BUT what about those naysayers as well as the indifferent? Here’s how to stay true to yourself.
- In this episode, transforming the opportunities and outcomes for our students through Whole School Change. There’s many top insights here.
- You’re passionate about exploring social justice issues in the classroom. But you’re worried about being accused of pushing an agenda. Here’s some tips.
- How do you find your voice – when there’s so many aspects that make us who we are? Listen to Jenny Moes’ incredibly rich and moving tale.
The following books have inspired my activism both within and outside the field of education. They’ve encouraged me to take risks.
They’ve given me a language for change. They’ve let me know I’m not alone – there’s many other people working to cut through and make a real difference.
Teaching to Transgress – bell hooks
I regularly return to this book – it’s well thumbed with many parts marked. Why? It resonates so strongly with my experience of challenging and disrupting taken-for-granted ideas and practices. I love how it isn’t tied up all nice and neat with a bow-tie. It’s raw and messy, dripping with a fierce passion.
Also check out Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood where bell hooks takes us on a journey through the eyes of a young girl. I’ve regularly used this book in my work with pre-service teachers for the light it sheds on social disadvantage, racism, sexism, family and community, courage and agency. A must-read.
The Trouble with Normal – Michael Warner
I first came across this book whilst writing my PhD on same-sex attracted youth. To say it changed my thinking is perhaps an understatement. Michael Warner is able to take incredibly complex ideas and put them in everyday speak.
It is a challenging, provocative read and still highly relevant today with the fight worldwide for same-sex marriage. The ideas within can be applied across the many fields of diversity.
Being Normal Is the only way to be – Wayne Martino & Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli
This is a book written for all those who work with young people. Inspired, and informed by the voices of young Australians – it’s packed with ready to use activities (for the class and whole school). Fitting in, belonging, and celebrating difference that’s what this book is all about.
Both Maria and Wayne are tireless social activists. They were my inspirations when I first started to speak up on Social Justice issues, and they continue to inspire and encourage me today. Their writing is accessible, practical and backed by solid research. I regularly use these books in my classes.
Activism in Action – that’s what this book is about. Erin Gruwell is a teacher who is passionate about making a difference with her students. She wants their voices to be heard. This is the type of teaching I aspire to – it resonates so powerfully.
Black Ants and Buddhists – Mary Cowhey
Similar to Erin Gruwell above, Mary Cowhey is making change happen from within the walls of her classroom. Yet she’s not staying there, no way, she’s all about connecting learning to the worlds of her students outside the school gates.
Mary isn’t what you would call a conventional teacher. She’s driven by a desire to challenge the status quo and affirm minority voices. And her students run with her. When I’ve used this book with pre-service teachers, a number can’t believe the activism. How can she do this with such young students? they ask. Mary challenges our very notions of what’s possible.
The status quo may be comforting for its familiarity and for providing a sense of normalcy [yet] it is also quite oppressive. (Kevin Kumashiro)
Much of what we say and do in the classroom can be experienced as oppressive by our students, Kumashiro argues. His book is a case for teaching against Oppression, through Anti-Oppressive Education. Kumashiro shows how we may be complicit in oppression and imagines alternative ways through – within elementary, secondary and post-secondary education settings.
This is a book for those who are unafraid of the tough questions, who are okay with being unsettled, and are looking for new ways to ‘do’ Social Justice.
The Process of Change
Queering Elementary Education
This is a ground-breaking collection. It challenges the notion that we can’t (or shouldn’t) talk about sexual diversity with elementary school students. Written by educators for educators – it shows how to challenge the business-as-usual thinking about young people and sexuality.
I wrote my very first book chapter for this collection. It’s all about my journey as Catholic school teacher, as I set out to challenge the invisibility of same-sex attracted people, within policies, discussions, and seminars.