Imagining social change: Developing social consciousness in an arts-based pedagogy

  • Louise Ammentorp Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York
Keywords: Vygotski, consciousness, metaphor, art


This paper is a study of a social-justice, arts-based literacy curriculum in a low income, working-class, predominately African-American school district in Newark, New Jersey. Participating students studied photography and poetry of established artists and took and developed their own photographs accompanied by written narratives. As a part of the curriculum students also wrote poetry and analytical essays. I present my findings within the context of a Vygotskian pedagogical approach that takes social consciousness and metaphor as its central concepts. The paper lays out this conceptual apparatus and deploys it to analyze the curriculum and student work. The paper argues for curriculum that develops social consciousness as the most effective for preparing students to create and participate in democratic societies. The research and analysis show that an arts based curriculum, in addition to successfully teaching literacy, is one of the most effective ways of bringing students’ life experience into the classroom for analysis and discussion, making activity at school relevant for students lives, especially those whose daily activities regularly confronts issues of life and death.
How to Cite
Ammentorp, L. (1). Imagining social change: Developing social consciousness in an arts-based pedagogy. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 9(1), 38-52. Retrieved from