All history or current events are understood through a particular lens. We advocate for a social justice lens – that is, telling the story of history or current events from perspectives other than those in power. What’s more, we employ this lens with a liberatory pedagogy, a process whereby we do not merely learn about issues of social justice, but also seek practices that empower and liberate the student. This is an element often neglected, even in so-called social justice curricula: to observe history or current events through a social justice lens is merely a start; how we engage the material – and one another – makes for a liberatory pedagogy.
Liberation occurs not merely in learning about issues; it occurs when we simultaneously embrace inner and outer freedom and power. So, we learn about social justice not merely by discussing the pressing issues of today or of history, or even by directly engaging with such issues and seeking to change the world. We must ground those issues in creating more just interactions and relationship within the learning space. Again, the classroom is a microcosm. A just liberatory learning space brings forth a more just and compassionate world.
While our children can and should look honestly at the injustices in our world, this ought not to lead to despair. The pursuit of justice ought to be a joyful endeavor, a practice of both genuine sorrow and of genuine celebration and community. When these things come together, we are left with a world-vision guided by justice and equality. This is a liberatory process, and one that is never quite finished. But if we enter into it with our whole selves and as a whole community, the process, even if it is painful, can be a joyful one.
Reimagining the Classroom
– By Theodore Richards
Robert K. Beshara is the author of Decolonial Psychoanalysis: Towards Critical Islamophobia Studies (Routledge, 2019) as well as Freud and Said: Contrapuntal Psychoanalysis as Liberation Praxis (Palgrave, 2021). He is also the editor of A Critical Introduction to Psychology (Nova, 2019) and Critical Psychology Praxis: Psychosocial Non-Alignment to Modernity/Coloniality (Routledge, 2021). Further, he is the translator of Mourad Wahba’s (1995) Fundamentalism and Secularization (Bloomsbury, 2022). He is the founder of the Critical Psychology website: www.criticalpsychology.org. Finally, he works as an Assistant Professor and Director of Integrated Studies at Northern New Mexico College. For more information, please visit www.robertbeshara.com.