A Critical Inquiry Framework for K-12 Teachers: Lessons and Resources from the U.N. Rights of the Child.

Author:Kinloch, Valerie
Position:Book review
 
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A Critical Inquiry Framework for K-12 Teachers: Lessons and Resources from the U.N. Rights of the Child (Teachers College Press, 2013) Edited by JoBeth Allen and Lois Alexander

In their new edited collection, A Critical Inquiry Framework for K-12 Teachers, JoBeth Allen, Lois Alexander, and their contributors present powerful classroom cases that reflect the significance and educational relevance of the United Nations Rights of the Child (ROC). The collection opens with a Critical Literacy Invitation (see Van Sluys, 2005; Allen & Alexander, 2013) that derives from the U.N. Convention on the ROC and that advocates for critical, humanizing, and intentional responses to all forms of injustice. The invitation reads:

Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child "applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities; whatever they think or say; whatever type of family they come from. It doesn't matter where children live, what language they speak, what their parents do, whether they are boys or girls, what their culture is, whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis." (1) This invitation is powerful for a number of reasons, particularly so because it provides the basis for a critical content framework that does not tolerate discrimination, unfairness, and inequities of any kind. Instead, the invitation recognizes the unwavering commitment of educators to honor students and their identities, realities, humanities, and lived conditions. It also acknowledges the importance of educators hearing students' voices, listening to students' concerns and, subsequently, providing students with positive learning spaces that support their engagement with "critical inquiry into social issues relevant to their lives such as race, social class, language, and other aspects of citizenship in a democracy still under construction" (2). The assertion that "no child should be treated unfairly on any basis" is a valuable message that rings through on each page as one reads the nine chapters that comprise this dynamic collection.

To move beyond imagining and into fostering classroom spaces as sites of critical inquiry where, according to Allen, "concrete subject matter [is presented] in a cohesive structure that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry across disciplinary areas" (2), each chapter begins with an invitiation to readers. In the first chapter, Allen...

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