Stepping Up for Childhood: A Contextual Critical Methodology

Marta Sánchez
In this paper, we theorize a critical methodology for education centering community experiences of systemic injustice, drawing upon Critical Race Theory, critical educational leadership studies, Chicana feminism, participant action research and political theory, to re-focus our work on the human relationships at the center of the learning and teaching endeavor. We propose a discourse analysis of the dominant, master narrative and incorporation of a community of memory to provide emancipatory
more » ... nternarratives that provide members with avenues toward territorialization and reclamation of communal spaces such as public schools. Finally, we present four potential sites of this critical methodology to be activated in response to North Carolina's educational crises, including NC Senate Bill 8 (Charter School law), the Read to Achieve law, the Teacher of the Year awards, and NC General Statute 95-98. We begin this article by examining the terms "critical" and "methodology." We center the term "critical" within the paradigm of Critical Race Theory and Critical Multicultural Education, wherein the word is tied to activity and transformation. We draw upon Delgado Bernal and frame "critical" specifically as a challenge to dominating discourses of educational practice that margin-alize and suppress the voice of certain groups. 1 As children of two revolutionary moments (the Black Power movement in Detroit in the 1970s and the EZLN (or Zapatista) movement of the 1990s), we position ourselves as proponents of transformation, arguing that "critical" presents an exact and careful evaluation that promotes an inclusive turning point that might be fraught with danger for business-as-usual, status quo apologists. As Critical Race Theory and Critical Multi-cultural Education implement an active verb within the context of "critical," this epistemology maintains a direct connection with transformation and alteration of the dominant Master Narrative paradigm. In a similar way, "methodology" is more than a listing of research tools and instruments, and incorporates the epistemological stance of the researchers. While surveys, narratives, obser-1. Delores Delgado Bernal, "Using a Chicana Feminist Epistemology in Educational Research," Harvard Educational Review 68 (1998): 555-581.