In the history of American education, adult schools for social justice are a little-noticed, but important development that brings into focus ways education can promote social change. Since the early twentieth century, these schools created an alternative pedagogy to help “ordinary” people understand their subordinate place in society, the sources of their oppression, and to think about ways to become empowered in liberation struggles. Attention is focused on schools for immigrants, workers, radicals, civil rights activists, and women. Working-class adults often embraced collectivist traditions, stressing mutual aid. Visions of social transformation based on universalistic values and personal expression are most effective when combined with an approach that privileges solidarity in groups and identifies and confronts power structures.
I am a former college teacher who now devotes his full time to writing and the visual arts. My book, "The Dangers of Dissent: The FBI and Civil Liberties since 1965," was published by Rowman and Littlefield/Lexington Books (October 2010). A second volume, "Surveillance in America: Critical Analysis of the FBI, 1920 to the Present," was published by Lexington Books in June 2012. I live in Silver Spring, MD.