The description is submitted to:


Session R4818 (Teaching Middle East Studies in a Controversial Time: Between Activism and Accountability), 2017
On a daily basis, I am reminded that about the necessity of social studies teachers to prepare students to be employed and to be active citizens of the United States or their home country, now and when they are eligible to vote. The social studies classroom, therefore, becomes the safe space to practice engagement with the issues confronting the local community, the nation, and our world. The classroom becomes the location to decide what the purpose of government is, to engage in definitions of community and who is included or excluded, and how to engage in changing the world to better reflect their ideals, among other key and enduring questions. At the same time, the classroom is not isolated from the outside forces that impact the classroom. My school district is a Title I district, meaning that 90 plus percent receive free and reduced lunch, most students identify as people of color, and many students know at least one family member who is undocumented. Poverty and racism play out in the classroom in both the students’ own experiences as well as the effects of state educational policies that seek to control the taught narrative of the United States as white, male, Christian, and law abiding. Before students can even begin to explore the larger world, they have breathed in the narrative that that anyone who does not identify with the larger narrative are bad. The teacher’s role becomes two fold: lobbyist fighting against unjust policies that negatively impact the classroom and educator guiding students to engage with the tough questions that require difficult and complicated answers.