Professor Aims To Turn Elementary Students Into Social Justice Warriors

Scott Greer | Contributor

A professor at the taxpayer-funded Montclair State University in New Jersey is hoping to train teachers to get excited about social justice.

The professor’s name is Bree Picower, associate professor of Early Childhood, Elementary Education, and Literacy Education at Montclair, and the workshop she teaches is called “Social Justice Curriculum Design for the Elementary Classroom.”

“This workshop is designed to help teachers visualize social justice education by providing examples of projects, making social justice in K-6 setting accessible, practical, and achievable,” the workshop’s description reads.

The workshop also requires students to “explore issues of social injustice, learn about social movements, raise awareness, and engage in activism.”

On her website, Using Their Words, Picower outlines the six elements of social justice education for students in elementary schools. They are: “Self-love and knowledge;” “Respect for Others;” “Issues of Social Injustice;” “Social Movements and Social Change;” “Awareness Raising;” and “Social Action.”

Picower also offers classroom projects for K-6 teachers. Some of the projects the Montclair professor would like teachers to implement include: “The CACAO Project: Children Against Chocolate Aided Oppression,” “2nd Graders Insights on Iraq,” “2nd Graders Go Fair Trade,” “Questioning Columbus,” and “Beat it! Defeat it! Racist Cookies, We Won’t Eat it!”

As an example of the kind of the kind of work required by these projects, “The CACAO Project” had 5th graders writing “letters to chocolate CEO’s, creat[ing] a petition to get fair trade chocolate in their local store, creat[ing] PSA’s to educate the community and protest[ing] in front of M&Ms/Mars in Times Square.”

That event occurred in 2008 and video of the protest shows hundreds of kids joining in the demonstration.

Picower authored a textbook in 2012 entitled, “Practice What You Teach: Social Justice Education in the Classroom and the Streets.” According to the book’s description, the book “follows three different groups of educators to explore the challenges of developing and supporting teachers’ sense of social justice and activism at various stages of their careers: White pre-service teachers typically enrolled in most teacher education programs, a group of new teachers attempting to integrate social justice into their teaching, and experienced educators who see their teaching and activism as inextricably linked.”

“By understanding all these challenges, pre-service and in-service teachers, along with teacher educators, will be in a better position to develop the kind of political analysis that lays the foundation for teacher activism,” the description adds.

In addition to these activities, Picower has also lectured on the topic of “The Unexamined Whiteness of Teaching,” which explores the “record number of White teachers in the field” and their “constructions of people different from themselves.”

Picower did not return The Daily Caller’s request for comment on the importance of teaching social justice to elementary school students.

New Jersey witnessed a high-profile case of social justice teaching in an elementary classroom earlier this year, and the culprit could’ve been a former student of Picower.

In April, a New Jersey elementary teacher and Montclair State graduate encouraged her third-grade students to engage in a bit of social justice activism by writing get-well cards to notorious cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal. After blaming the kids for the mishap, she was fired by the school a month later. (RELATED: Teacher Fired Over Class Letters To Cop-Killer)

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