Completed Theses of M.S. Urban Education Degree Earners

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Julia Pearlstein-Levy

Title: How Should Urban Middle School Social Studies Teachers Incorporate Local History About Students' Communities into Curriculum in Order to Strengthen Students’ Connection to their Communities and Raise Students’ Critical Consciousness? A Review of the Literature

Abstract:  This thesis investigates how social studies teachers should incorporate local history about students’ communities into curriculum in order to build students’ connection to community and raise students’ critical consciousness. Historically, many schools operate as isolated institutions. Schools are often divorced from the land they stand on; treated as separate from their surrounding neighborhoods. Instead of exploring their own geographic and cultural communities, students are often taught uniform white-washed national curriculum in the general social studies classroom. Many researchers and educators resist teaching generalized, white-washed curriculum, motivated by a desire to bridge the gap between school and community and raise students’ critical consciousness of what is happening right outside school doors. Researchers and educators have developed different key ideas about how teachers should best go about teaching local history in the classroom, resulting in the following conceptual frameworks: funds of knowledge, community-based pedagogy, place-based education, critical pedagogy of place, critical Indigenous pedagogy of place, land education, and student as community experts. This thesis analyzes theoretical research and empirical studies done on application of these conceptual frameworks. This thesis details the benefits and drawbacks of each framework. Through analysis I found that critical Indigenous pedagogy of place, land education, and students as community experts are the most powerful tools to integrate local history into social studies curriculum in order to strengthen students’ connection to community and raise students’ critical consciousness.

Completed:  December 2021

Author: Urban Teacher Program Manager
Last modified: 5/15/2022 5:45 PM (EST)