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Book Review :: Teach for Climate Justice by Tom Roderick

Guest Post by Eleanor J. Bader

In Teach for Climate Justice: A Vision for Transforming Education, longtime education activist and teacher Tom Roderick argues that the primary role of schools today is to create ecologically-conscious students who are “courageous, intelligent, and wise fighters for social justice.” Indeed, as environmental degradation becomes more-and-more apparent, Roderick writes that the need to protect the earth should be woven into every academic discipline, pre-K through high school.

Thanks to numerous school-based examples and interviews, Teach for Climate Justice merges concrete scientific information about the crisis with a how-to on community organizing that zeroes in on the power of collective action to build momentum for change. The result is inspiring.

It’s also intersectional, linking efforts to win human and civil rights with campaigns for environmental justice. Throughout, the text highlights pollution’s disproportionate impact on communities of color. Moreover, it names the culprits–corporations that promote endless economic growth and lawmakers who do their bidding.

But how to force a reckoning with them?

Roderick argues that this existential question is foundational, if still unanswered. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic: Since 90 percent of US children attend public schools, he believes that students can learn to push back against climate deniers, develop personal agency, and foster respect between people and Mother earth. A compendium of resources is included to aid teachers in these efforts.

Teach for Climate Justice: A Vision for Transforming Education by Tom Roderick. Harvard Education Press, June 2023.

Reviewer bio: Eleanor J. Bader is a Brooklyn, NY-based journalist who writes about books and domestic social issues for Truthout, Rain Taxi, The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Indypendent.

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