The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy

Teaching in the cracks: Student engagement through social action curriculum projects

Brian D. Schultz, Jennifer McSurley, Mildred Salguero


As hyper-standardization becomes more pronounced in our educational climate, schooling that neither captures the attention nor engages students through traditional classroom teaching is unsurprising. Amidst such high-stakes pressures associated with the current “reform” movement, critical educators concerned with providing meaningful curriculum and transferable skills for everyday life are forced to teach “under the radar.” Oftentimes, such teachers search for openings within official curricula to “teach in the cracks,” connecting students with issues relevant to their lives. This in-between pedagogy demonstrates the complexities of teaching: rather than ignore top-down expectations, the approach seeks opportunities within such mandates to engage immediate classroom participants in worthwhile curricula. Teaching in the cracks begins to address the ongoing dilemma between following an expected curricula and seeking organic student engagement beyond the classroom with community problems. Through narrative inquiry, this article examines one teacher’s willingness to exploit such openings through a curricular approach called a Social Action Curriculum Project (SACP).

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