Pedagogical Pivoting, Emergent Curriculum, and Knowledge Production: But Just Don’t Call It Social Justice

Brian D. Schultz, Stephanie Pearson


The current context of skill-based curriculum and high-stakes, outside mandates makes teaching exceedingly difficult. This educational climate creates a challenging environment in which to identify opportunities for engaging students in inquiry-based, emergent forms of curriculum centering on issues and topics they name. Through side-by-side narrative inquiry, this article focuses on the perspectives drawn from a co-teaching experience of a third-grade teacher and a university professor who worked together to adjust teaching approaches from a skill-based to an emergent, knowledge-generative pedagogy. By engaging young people around issues the students identified, the teacher engages in a pedagogical pivot. While the teacher embraced new practices related to emergent curriculum, she resisted naming it as justice-oriented teaching. This inquiry raises issues around curriculum and student agency, framing curriculum as social justice, and pedagogical agility.


Emergent Curriculum; Democratic Teaching; Social Justice Education; Classroom Practices

Full Text:


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.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

NOTICE: As of December 2008, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (Volume 24, Issue 1) and all future issues
are available freely and exclusively online to all individuals and institutions. More Information...

Contributors to the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing retain copyright to their work.

All other content: Copyright © Foundation for Curriculum Theory. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 1942-2563