Contemporary American youth live in a culture that ignores or denigrates labor unions. Mainstream media cover labor issues only sparingly and unions no longer play much of a role in popular culture texts, films, or images. In our schools labor has been limited to a footnote in textbooks instead of being treated seriously as the most effective force for championing the rights of working people—the vast majority of the citizenry. Teachers have been convinced that to bring up class or to teach about the labor movement may be construed as “taking sides,” while the all-pervasive presence of corporate America in our schools is rarely questioned. So for all the talk of schools preparing young people for the work world, we are failing to teach them even the basics of how that world is structured or how they can be empowered through collective action.
Organizing the Curriculum: Perspectives on Teaching the US Labor Movement is the first book-length treatment of this blind spot in contemporary curriculum and pedagogy. Contributors to this collection—unionists, activists, teachers, teacher educators, and academics—interrogate the ways in which knowledge is constructed in school discourses, conceptualize pedagogical strategies and curricula that open discussions around class analysis and political economy via studies of the labor movement, and put forward an activist vision of education that truly engages young people beyond the classroom walls.