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Pushing Comfort Zones: Promoting Social Justice Through the Teaching of Aboriginal Canadian Literature

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In this paper we highlight findings from a teacher inquiry group study designed to explore possibilities for teaching contemporary Canadian literature to promote issues of social justice in secondary classrooms. Drawing on Boler and Zembylas’s notion of a ‘pedagogy of discomfort’, our paper will focus on the experiences of two teachers in the group who, through the selection and teaching of two Aboriginal Canadian texts, moved away from well-established pedagogical practices. We explore the role of the inquiry group in supporting teachers in their attempts to problematize unquestioned assumptions and address the absences in their curricular practices and examine the potential of using Canadian literature to enhance students’ understanding of historical marginalizations and structural inequalities. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of our research for pre-service and in-service educators who face the challenges of teaching in increasingly diverse schools.
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Keywords: Canadian literature; aboriginal authors; inquiry groups; pedagogy of discomfort; social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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