Some people still think that “wokeness”, “decolonization”, and teaching “social justice” is a fringe idea that at worst happens in some Left-wing dominated city. It is hard to argue that point when the official “School & Library Marketing department of Penguin Young Readers” openly partners with “Disrupt Texts”, “A movement to rebuild the literary canon using an antibias, antiracist critical literacy lens”, to provide eight “teaching and learning guides” that can “be integrated into classrooms tomorrow”.
Texts include such paragons of wokeness as “Antiracist Baby”, amongst other drivel.
This guide is based on four “Core Principles”:
Four Core Principles to #DisruptTexts
#DisruptTexts’s mission is to aid and develop teachers committed to anti-racist/anti-bias teaching pedagogy and practices. There are four core principles to #DisruptTexts:
- Continuously interrogate our own biases and how they inform our thinking.
As teachers, we have been socialized in certain values, attitudes, and beliefs that inform the way we read, interpret, and teach texts, and the way we interact with our students. Ask: How are my own biases affecting the way I’m teaching this text and engaging with my students?
- Center Black, Indigenous, and voices of color in literature.
Literature study in U.S. classrooms has largely focused on the experiences of White (and male) dominated society, as perpetuated through a traditional, Euro-centric canon. Ask: What voices—authors or characters—are marginalized or missing in our study? How are these perspectives authentic to the lived experiences of communities of color?
- Apply a critical literacy lens to our teaching practices.
While text-dependent analysis and close reading are important skills for students to develop, teachers should also support students in asking questions about the way that such texts are constructed. Ask: How does this text support or challenge issues of representation, fairness, or justice? How does this text perpetuate or subvert dominant power dynamics and ideologies? And how can we ask students to wrestle with these tensions?
- Work in community with other antiracist educators, especially Black, Indigenous, and other educators of color.
To disrupt and transform curriculum and instruction requires working with other educators who can challenge and work with us as antiracist educators. Ask: How can we collaborate to identify, revise, or create instructional resources (like this guide) that can center and do justice to the experiences of historically marginalized communities?
Each principle stands for actions that are culturally sustaining and antiracist. Through each principle, teachers aim to offer a curriculum that is restorative, inclusive, and therefore works toward healing identities and communities.