Liberatory Science: Critiquing Standards Creating Critical and Culturally Affirming Science Classrooms
In schools, science is taught as an apolitical finite body of knowledge, free from bias and subjective human experience. In reality, science classrooms reinforce a dominant dialogue of white, male, heteronormative superiority that marginalizes and excludes many students from science identities and school success in their science classrooms. Liberatory science classrooms seek to acknowledge, subvert, and reimagine science as an inclusive discipline that values the unique contributions of all students. I contend that in order to create these classroom spaces, teachers must start at the beginning of their planning process by critiquing and problematizing the science standards themselves. As teachers are still subject to state and district standards that stipulate what needs to be taught in their classrooms, creatively subverting these standards allows for teachers to meet requirements necessary to stay employed, while still actively creating liberatory classrooms. In this capstone I provide a series of guiding questions to support teachers in unpacking their mandated standards, with rationale and explanations to support each series of questions. While there are many more steps required to make classroom spaces more equitable and truly liberatory, I argue that starting at the beginning by critiquing standards is a vital first step.