Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Planning to Change the World - One Day at a Time

Education for Liberation Network and The New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCore) have published Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Educators. The 2008-2009 Plan Book aims to help teachers incorporate social justice into classroom activities. (And is useful for those of us who use paper, rather than blackberries to keep track of our schedules! Of course, I don't know any teachers who have blackberries...)

What's useful:
The book offers a number of quotes related to social change & education. A couple of my favorites (although they are all inspiring):
  • Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek. You can't see it, you can't find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feeling of it is irritating. --Marian Anderson, opera singer
  • No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are ones that don't love anybody. --Rita Mae Brown, author and activist for gay rights
  • I don't think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future. --Wilma Mankiller, first woman elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
There are conversation/journal questions throughout, to be used to spark discussion with students. For example, "Would you stand up for someone else's rights? Have you ever witnessed someone else's rights being violated? What did you do or what might you do next time?" They aren't daily or even weekly, so I wish there were more. 

I also like the ideas and titles for social justice recognitions to give to students. (I won't give them away here though...)

The calendar includes a number of significant dates--the best part is that these dates are paired with teaching resources in the back of the book. For example, March 9, 2009 will be the 50th anniversary of A Raisin in the Sun's Broadway debut--the first Broadway play written by a black woman. The book includes a link to a unit plan on the play that includes 18 lessons and resources materials. These dates and lesson plans/resources are an exciting part of the book.

A few pages of the book outline the work and successes of teachers for social justice. Also useful, but I'd like to see more.

Things that would make great additions to this book:
  • Elementary/Secondary Editions (differentiated)
  • More questions for conversations (daily or weekly)
  • Additional examples of the work of educators
  • An online version of the calendar
  • A website to track user's success or implementation of discussions or lesson plans
The bottom line:
A useful buy. The lesson plans, dates, quotes, and discussion questions are excellent resources to add to a social justice educator's toolkit. Why buy a planner at Office Max or Target when you can get Planning to Change the World for the same price?