Theses Doctoral

Reading as a Political Act: Reading for Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our Liberation

Lehman, Coley

Standardization has been part of teaching and learning in the United States since the late 19th century. This technocratic approach has gained more traction in the past two decades beginning with the passage of the landmark No Child Left Behind law in 2001and continuing through the recent standardization movement to restrict content and pedagogical autonomy. These efforts have one thing in common: The knowledge and expertise of teachers are not considered.

In contrast, this study positioned teachers as experts. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate how middle school teachers conceptualize themselves as readers, engage in reading for justice, and envision these concepts in their own classrooms as they participate in a young adult (YA) literature book club. This work brings together two often separate scholarly approaches to reading: reading lives (reading as pleasure) and social justice literature (reading as political) to see how teachers inform or reimagine literacy (reading as pedagogical) in their classrooms. This study was grounded on the notion that theory and practice are not separate endeavors. Critical sociocultural theory undergirds this collaborative teacher inquiry group. Teachers take a critical stance as they read YA titles that center social justice issues. Through semi-structured interviews, teachers reflected on their own reading histories and lives as well as their ideas about literacy in their classrooms.

This study adds to the existing scholarship on literacy and teacher learning. Methodologically, the researcher utilized a practice (book clubs) that is used academically in school settings and socially among friends. The book club exists in a liminal space between the academic and the social, suggesting it is an alternative space for teacher learning. This study has the potential to contribute to a greater emphasis on the value and importance of teacher-centered learning communities.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 1, 2023