This article considers the potential of integrating critical literacy into approaches to teaching and learning social studies as an indispensable tool for building better communities (Agbaria, 2011). It begins with an overview of the authors’ experiences and perspectives related to social studies and critical literacy. It then proceeds to consider current perceptions and practices regarding literacy in U.S. classrooms and the trend towards teaching and learning literacy and a distinct set of technical and functional knowledge and skills that are often taught in isolation. The article then examines conceptions of critical literacy and considers connections to social studies education. Finally, it considers how critical approaches to teaching and learning literacy and social studies might be united to promote and support the development of critical thinking skills necessary for today’s students to successfully address issues in an increasingly complex and interconnected global society.

Author Biography

Bernardo Pohl, Ed.D, is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Houston-Downtown. He currently teaches survey of special population, evaluation and assessment, cultures of urban schools, and social studies methods. Previously, he was a special education and social studies teacher at Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District in Northwest Houston for 10 years. He is the author of the book The Moral Debate on Special Education, published by Peter Lang, which has been nominated for 2015 Outstanding Book of the Year at the American Education Research Association. His research focuses on moral and ethical issues on social studies and special education, and his research has been presented nationally and internationally.

Christine Beaudry, Ed.D, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Houston, and currently teaches courses on elementary social studies education. Her research interests include community education, social studies education, culturally responsive and multicultural teaching, and equity and justice in education. She has published and presented on topics related to community education, critical qualitative research, and critical approaches to teaching and learning social studies. She has several years of K-12 teaching experience in both social studies and outdoor education.