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“Everybody Grieves, but Still Nobody Sees”: Toward a Praxis of Recognition for Latina/o Students in U.S. Schools


by Louie F. Rodriguez — 2012

Background/Context: The academic success and failure of low-income youth, and Black and Latina/o youth in particular, has received significant attention in the educational literature, particularly in relation to school dropout. Over the last decade, several studies have demonstrated that student–teacher relationships, committed teachers, and notions of caring are critical to the success of Latina/o youth. However, high-poverty urban schools are graduating fewer than half of their students, in comparison with about 70% at the national level. There remains a scant body of research, policy, and conceptual frameworks to help address the crisis, popularly deemed the “dropout crisis,” particularly among Latinas/os, the youngest, fastest growing, and lowest educated group in the United States.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: In what ways can and should researchers, practitioners, and policy makers recognize the existence of Latina/o youth? The purpose of the article, contextualized in the theoretical and empirical literature, is to problematize the concept of recognition, particularly for Latina/o youth, and introduce a conceptual framework to understand, examine, and help rectify the crisis facing this population.

Research Design: In this conceptual paper, I argue that key stakeholders must recognize the existence of the Latina/o youth by acknowledging their human existence through legitimizing the unequal conditions and struggles they face in school. Educators much engage youth in curricular and pedagogical experiences that seek to raise students’ consciousness through critical thinking and dialogue. This article is focused on the human and interpersonal actions and processes that are necessary to facilitate agency and change among students. Theoretical origins informing recognition are discussed, followed by a contextualized analysis of recognition within the present-day conditions of U.S. schools, particularly for Latina/o youth. I then propose five pedagogies of recognition: relational recognition, curricular recognition, pedagogical recognition, contextualizing recognition, and transformative recognition. Each form of recognition is situated in the relevant literature.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This article argues that the proposed pedagogies of recognition need to be enacted to foster the intellectual, academic, and political development of youth, particularly Latina/o youth. Recognition can help educators and scholars understand how the social, political, and economic conditions impact Latina/o youth and helps educators reframe the conceptual bases of their work by challenging them to interrogate the (in)effectiveness of institutional and classroom-level practices. The ultimate goal is to help educators and researchers reconstruct and redefine the purpose of education for Latina/o youth in U.S. schools.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 1, 2012, p. 1-31
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16209, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 7:06:35 PM

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About the Author
  • Louie Rodriguez
    California State University, San Bernardino
    E-mail Author
    LOUIE F. RODRIGUEZ is currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. His research focuses on school culture and dropout, equity and access issues in urban schools and communities, and youth engagement. He is the author of Small Schools and Urban Youth: Using the Power of School Culture to Engage Students (2007) and “Dialoguing, Cultural Capital, and Student Engagement” (2009) in Equity and Excellence in Education.
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