Resistance Pedagogy: Illuminating Marginalized Voices and Challenging Dominant Narratives

In: Protest
Charles BellPh.D, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA

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In the United States, the criminal justice system comprises a multitude of complex social structures and policies that directly impact the lives of every citizen. The prison policy initiative reports nearly one out of every 100 citizens in the United States is incarcerated in a prison or jail. Scholars also note that the control mechanisms and sanctions associated with incarceration extend to an incarcerated individuals’ family members and social network. As studies demonstrate how underfunded schools and communities, punitive school disciplinary practices, violent social policies, and failed safety measures contribute to arrest and incarceration, the lived experiences of those who have navigated these challenges should be explored. In this article, I describe how I established a “resistance pedagogical framework” in my undergraduate and graduate courses. Rather than relying solely on traditional textbooks, I created panel engagement opportunities, field trips, and other activities that allow marginalized and system-impacted individuals to challenge existing narratives of inferiority that are perpetuated by white supremacy. This article provides an overview of the shortcomings that are associated with traditional pedagogy, examples of resistance pedagogy in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, students’ perceptions of the panel engagement activities, and future implications.

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