Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators (Equity and Social Justice in Education) (Paperback)

Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators (Equity and Social Justice in Education) By Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, Katy Swalwell Cover Image

Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators (Equity and Social Justice in Education) (Paperback)


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Plan and deliver a curriculum to help your students connect with the humanity of others!

In the wake of 2020, we need today’s young learners to be prepared to develop solutions to a host of entrenched and complex issues, including systemic racism, massive environmental problems, deep political divisions, and future pandemics that will severely test the effectiveness and equity of our health policies. What better place to start that preparation than with a social studies curriculum that enables elementary students to envision and build a better world?

In this engaging guide two experienced social studies educators unpack the oppressions that so often characterize the elementary curriculum—normalization, idealization, heroification, and dramatization—and show how common pitfalls can be replaced with creative solutions. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, methods student, or curriculum coordinator, this is a book that can transform your understanding of the social studies disciplines and their power to disrupt the narratives that maintain current inequities.

Noreen Naseem Rodríguez (University of Colorado–Boulder) is a teacher educator and researcher of social studies education. She lives in Erie, Colorado.

Katy Swalwell is Lead Equity Specialist for the Equity Literacy Institute and founder of Past Present Future Media & Consulting. A former classroom teacher and tenured university professor, she explores how social studies education can help people of all ages become better at identifying and disrupting oppression. In addition to publishing research in peer-reviewed journals, practitioner magazines, and other academic books, she has created the Amazing Iowa children’s book series ( and co-hosts an irreverent history podcast called Our Dirty Laundry, which examines white women’s complicity in white supremacy.
Product Details ISBN: 9781324016779
ISBN-10: 1324016779
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: November 16th, 2021
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Equity and Social Justice in Education
[T]he book that elementary social studies educators have been asking for and Rodríguez and Swalwell powerfully delivered. It is unapologetically critical and provides us with clear reasoning for the importance of engaging in anti-oppressive social studies teaching and the tools for how to begin the work necessary for creating a better world....[A] long-awaited treasure for critical elementary educators, teacher candidates, and teacher educators alike.
— Teachers College Record

No one should step into a classroom without first reading Social Studies for a Better World. The book sings with possibility about creating classrooms of justice and kindness. It is the book that all teachers need in these hard times.

— Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools

Brilliantly conceptualized, Social Studies for a Better World offers essential insights for understanding how social studies can help students decipher the past and make sense of the present. It is essential reading for anyone who believes in the power of social studies to transform society.

— Hasan Kwame Jeffries, host of the podcast “Teaching Hard History,” and Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University

Speaking as scholars, educators, mothers, and human beings, Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell offer the support and inspiration educators need to skillfully practice anti-oppression in our classrooms and to prepare children to carry that practice into their lives outside of school.
— Carla Shalaby, author of Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School?

[T]his instructive, informative, and anti-oppressive pedagogical textbook is a long anticipated, how-to guide for explicitly promoting social justice and implicitly democratizing learning in the primary grades…. [I]n-service teachers, administrators, and those with a role in curricular decisions will also find the book to be helpful for rethinking Eurocentric practices and increasing young learners’ enthusiasm via discipline-specific rigor….[W]ill generally enrich the syllabi of like-minded college instructors.
— Education Review