“We Don’t Want a Teacher”: Using the Past to Offer Fresh Eyes to Contemporary Practice

Alexander Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Much historical and contemporary writing lauds the Citizenship Schools of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Highlander Folk School that supported them, as major players in the struggle to educate Black people across the South as citizens and voters. However, little scholarly literature explores the pedagogical and programmatic elements of these community-driven schools or the ways these schools provided an infrastructure to the movement. Drawing from archival research, this article examines these schools and connects their educational methods to the successes of the Civil Rights Movement. It names ways these methods influenced present practice in youth work for social change while also identifying the ways that many of the practices of these schools have been ignored or lost in contemporary youth work. It concludes by identifying from this work 9 questions youth workers can pose to orient their youth work toward social and racial justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-78
Number of pages23
JournalChild and Youth Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Citizenship Schools
  • Highlander Folk School
  • democratic education
  • social change
  • social justice


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