Unearthing Joy: A Guide to Culturally and Historically Responsive Teaching and Learning

Scholastic Professional. Feb. 2023. 224p. pap. $36.99. ISBN 9781338856606.
In this stirring follow-up to Cultivating Genius, Muhammad builds upon the framework she introduced therein, adding the pursuit of joy to the four previously identified pursuits of identity; skills; intellect; and criticality, or “developing the ability to read texts to understand power, authority, and anti-oppression.” It is through these pursuits, she argues, that educators can work toward making teaching and learning truly student-centered. The author begins by providing historical context for her framework, relying on the literary and educational practices of Black ancestors. From there, she offers practical examples and applications of the framework, including suggested texts, questions for reflection, and sample lesson plans. Muhammad emphasizes the importance of school and district stakeholders undertaking this work in community with one another. The book is firmly grounded in the need for genius, justice, and joy in education, but is also an example of what that can look like; woven throughout the text are poems, artwork, coloring pages, and curated playlists that encourage joy, creativity, and deep reflection. While the author does provide some discussion of her previous work, it is recommended that readers begin with Cultivating Genius.
VERDICT Practical, inspiring, and joyous all at once. Outstanding and highly recommended!

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