Moving Beyond Slogans: Possibilities for a More Connected and Humanizing “Counter-recruitment” Pedagogy in Highly Militarized Urban Schools

Suzie M. Abajian, Maricela Guzman


Urban high schools have become increasingly militarized spaces, particularly after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act and the unprecedented recruitment campaign of the military post 9/11. As a response, anti-war activists and community organizations have launched “counter-recruitment” campaigns to educate students and communities of the realities of military service and “recruit” students away from the military. While these efforts have provided a much-needed response to the increased militarization of schools, they have not always employed liberatory means. This paper offers a critical analysis of certain counter-recruitment actions that employ what Freire (1970/1993) calls the “banking” approach, through the reflective narratives of the authors. The paper also proposes critical consciousness-raising through the example of a digital-storytelling project in a high school classroom, where students were able to tell their stories, gain academic skills and engage critically with topics such as poverty, violence, war and militarism.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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