Spring 2024      Volume 52, Number 2

Climate Justice Now: Lessons from a Middle School Teacher Who Is Cultivating Sustainable Futures
By Kristine M. Schutz and Rebecca Woodard with William Peek

Document: Column  

Introductory Paragraph:  This column is the second in a three-part series designed to introduce readers to some remarkable preK-8 educators who have been developing their climate knowledge and pedagogy. In this second installment, we introduce you to William Peek, a middle school humanities teacher at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago. William has taught middle and high school English/language arts and social studies and is a doctoral candidate studying literacy teacher professional development and queer literacy practices at the University of Illinois Chicago. He also served as a research assistant for a summer camp we designed to bring together Chicago youth to explore different aspects of urban farming while engaging with hands-on explorations and the arts to build conceptual knowledge. His teaching is featured in our book, Teaching Climate Change to Children: Literacy Pedagogy that Cultivates Sustainable Futures (Woodard & Schutz, forthcoming).  In his work with young people, William strives to help them interrogate social issues in the service of better understanding how humans are interconnected—with each other and the world around them. William believes that students must be encouraged to interrogate systemic issues and the ways that they both advantage and disadvantage different groups of people. For William, literacy serves as a conduit through which to channel this work.  We interviewed William about his experiences teaching and learning about climate change with middle schoolers. During the interview, William stressed that part of his role as a middle school teacher is to help young people understand that they are “part of a much larger, collective humanity,” and learning about climate change as both a local and global issue is one avenue through which to explore this concept. Below, we draw from William’s interview to share three lessons for teachers aiming to accomplish similar goals.

DOI:  https://doi.org/10.33600/IRCJ.52.2.2024.54

Page Numbers:   54-57

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