Self-encounters and subjective reconstruction: Using counter-stories toward creative pedagogy
Keywords:English Language Arts, Counter-stories, decolonizing education, book review
Within the current era of neoliberal colonial capitalism in North America, standardized educational practices aim to produce and reproduce status-quo ways of thinking that affirm rather than challenge dominant narratives. Teacher and administrative accountability tends to focus on the (re)production of goals, as an educator, I wonder what curricular space is left to attend to the lived experience of students beyond outcomes. Teresa Strong-Wilson’s recent book Teachers’ Ethical Self-Encounters with Counter-stories in the Classroom: From Implicated to Concerned Subjects offers an “elaborate detour” from the rage for standardization, inviting us to consider how using counter-stories within pedagogy and research might enhance ethical consciousness and contribute to subjective reconstruction. Strong-Wilson (2021) argues that the dehumanizing impetus of “neoliberal movements” such as “standardization and bureaucratization” tend to characterize students in terms of outcomes, eroding teachers’ agency and limiting their ability to affect curriculum in structural ways. Accordingly, counter-stories unsettle established structures of knowledge as they derive from “counter-memories,” which are “produced through oppression, subjugation or silencing” (p. 26). This review considers the significance of Strong-Wilson’s research using counter-stories for curriculum scholars and English Language Arts educators by attending to autobiographical modes of writing, subjective reconstruction, and ethical relations.