Practicing YPAR for School Equity

Blog post by Quin Gonell

Given my prior experience as high school teacher engaging with culturally sustaining and emancipatory pedagogies, it was only natural that I should find appeal in frameworks that make methods of knowledge creation accessible to youth. Thus, as early as my second semester as a doctoral student I became interested in joining other researchers to explore the benefits of YPAR as a pedagogical approach for redressing inequity in public schools. Fortunately, my interests aligned with the aspirations of researchers serving the University of Vermont’s restorative practices research team. Two of those research team colleagues (Lance and Bernice) and the Grade 6 humanities teacher (Lizzy) who co-facilitated the YPAR seminar are co-authors on this article.

Group of a dozen middle school students in a classroom

Members of Edmund’s Middle School YPAR Collective after their research-informed proposal to raise the Black Lives Matter flag at their school was passed with unanimous support by the Burlington, VT school board.

This article is our attempt to support the efforts of YPAR practitioners and researchers who wish to engage students in learning and research around school or community-based equity building. Given the place-based nature of structural inequity, we understand the need for flexibility in the design of these kinds of projects. However, we provide a flexible framework because we understand the value of having access to applicable models which educators can draw upon to guide the design of their own practice.

If you are someone who wishes to design or redesign a YPAR unit, please feel free to engage with us on this blog. We are interested in learning what approaches fellow YPAR practitioners are taking and also whether they are finding value in articles such as these. We invite you to share any thoughts or questions as we would be more than happy to engage with our readers!

With gratitude,

Quin Gonell, Lance Smith, Bernice Garnett, & Lizzy Clements

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 15-day access is available for this article beginning 4 March. 

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments section so we can continue this discussion!