Increased emphasis in recent years on reading and/or math achievement have sidelined social studies teaching in elementary education (Boyle-Baise, Hsu, Johnson, Serriere, & Stewart, 2012; Heafner & Fitchett, 2012; McMurrer, 2007; Shapiro & Brown, 2018). When teachers do address civics education, instruction typically sets up students for future citizenship duties, with a focus on rules and laws (Moyer, 1981; Swalwell & Payne, 2019). This traditional banking model of schooling (Freire, 1970/2009) makes children the receivers of knowledge and overlooks what they can do already (Swalwell & Payne, 2019). Efforts are needed to rethink “civics education as an emancipatory experience in which children learn to actively negotiate their identity and sense of belonging” (Berson & Berson, 2019, p. 75). Framed by posthuminist theories, the work of Freire, and problem-based learning, our research examined the experiences of children participating in a summer literacy program in Tennessee as they developed awareness, sense of belonging, and engagement, demonstrating that they were citizens bringing about change in their own community. Findings and implications for practice are discussed.



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