Fires in Our Lives: Advice for Teachers from Today’s High School Students

Kathleen Cushman, Kristien Zenkov, and Meagan Call-Cummings. New Press, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62097-543-5
Cushman (Fires in the Bathroom), cofounder of the nonprofit What Kids Can Do, and educators Zenkov and Call-Cummings examine how today’s “social, political, economic, and climatic crises” are stressing students in this well-intentioned yet familiar account. In interviews, public high schoolers across a wide range of demographics convey their search for belonging and their complex social identities. Answering the students’ call for the “genuine interest and supportive actions of teachers” who will make learning relevant to their lives, the authors provide tool kits for preparing students “to act as civic agents” on such issues as climate change, gun violence, immigration, and voter engagement. These guides include advice on how to calculate one’s carbon “foodprint,” conversation starters for debating gun control, prompts for exploring the connection between politics and math, and guidelines for using plural pronouns to refer to gender nonbinary people. Unfortunately, the authors don’t provide much analysis of how the education system (rather than individual teachers) can change to better meet students’ needs and foster their engagement in real-world issues. Still, this is an accurate and useful snapshot of what today’s teenagers are up to and up against. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/04/2021
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-62097-544-2
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