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Chicago, IL

Cities of Peace seeks to amplify the struggles of young people in Chicago and Phnom Penh as they organize to transform harm and create community healing. Using their own site-specific histories as a jumping off point, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Peace Institute of Cambodia will form Community Peace Councils which will interrogate the roots of structural and relational violence and practice transformative justice. They will produce a documentary film, develop exhibitions, and participate in an international exchange which will culminate in a Community Peacebuilding Summit in Chicago in the summer of 2015.

What is Trauma-Informed Critical Pedagogy?


Cities of Peace Teach-In participants share their research, learning, and questions about structural violence, community resistance, and healing. 

What is Trauma-Informed Critical Pedagogy?

Maria De La Paz

"Creating learning spaces that are opportunities for sharing, put the need of the learner at the core, utilize restorative and healing practices, and offer spaces for both self-reflection and critical analysis of larger structures that impact us down to the individual level."

"Being aware that students may have trauma histories, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other past event-related distress, student risk of re-traumatization and secondary traumatization should be decreased rather than increased. Understanding that a trauma-informed approach to pedagogy-one that recognizes these risks and prioritizes student emotional safety in learning-is essential, particularly in classes in which trauma theories or traumatic experiences are taught or disclosed or in urban poverty ridden settings."

"It means learning about trauma, acknowledging its existence, and responding to it in both action and curriculum."

"A student-lead teaching style that lends itself to reversing the trauma we face collectively by creating restorative practices while furthering participants learning."

"To me, trauma-informed critical pedagogy means acknowledging the role trauma has played in the lives of both students and teachers when creating curriculum. It means building educational spaces that center healing in a variety of ways. Healing through the understanding of each other's cultural backgrounds and experiences. Healing through the teaching of culturally relevant histories. It means using our educational spaces to interrogate systems of power that cause harm, and to work toward transforming those systems. And it means centering practices of compassion and love in everything we do."

"To me, trauma-informed critical pedagogy is choosing to teach culturally sensitive and relevant curriculum that places value on student voice and lived experience. Trauma-informed critical pedagogy is rooted in an understanding of how trauma affects brain development, which guides the teacher in implementing modifications that set students up for success."

"What Trauma-informed critical pedagogy means to me is being able to introduce deeper almost invisible barriers that exist within our own society. I teach 'at risk' youths, why do we call them that, why are they given that title? Trauma-informed pedagogy shines a light on these issues that affect these children and give them solace from institutional letdowns and stereotypes."

"Trauma-informed pedagogy is a teaching practice that is rooted in understanding how individuals are impacted by a personal and generational history of harm in order to build awareness and promote healing."

“Trauma-informed critical pedagogy means means being aware that learning happens through experiences. It means trying to create safe, engaging, healing experiences in the classroom and recognizing that the work of creating those spaces is never done but we're lucky because the experts to lead the process are the young people in the room.”

"As I believe that all forms of oppression are united through the shared traumatic experience of being oppressed, I see Trauma-informed critical pedagogy as a means of teaching with strong considerations to the effects of that trauma on the participants, as well specific attention to not re-traumatizing the participants and dismantling/reducing the effects of the trauma on the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, body."

"Trauma-informed pedagogy means that we create a classroom environment that is founded on healing practices and validates student's lived experiences. Trauma affects us all. Yet, the ways in which the behavior of others, as well as our own, are shaped by trauma are easy to miss. Often, trauma is perceived as an effect of a catastrophic events - physical violence, horrific accidents - which perpetrates the idea that trauma is something that only occurs rarely. Students already face the challenges that come with these kinds of perceptions, they can't possibly be having anxiety issues because they "have nothing to worry about." Trauma-informed pedagogy breaks away from this narrative by focusing on validating students as individuals capable of experiencing trauma. It also activates their agency, by showing them the ways in which they can process these experiences in a positive manner, and then asks them to use critical thinking skill to observe the society they live in."

"To me, trauma-informed pedagogy means a learning environment that meets the holistic needs of the learners, while centering the experiences of those in the space and being mindful of how those experiences could show up in the space. Trauma-informed means to address the traumas that the learners may carry and not ignore it."

"Trauma-informed critical pedagogy means taking the time and care to incorporate the myriad of cultures and experiences of your students into your classroom and to create a safe space for learning and healing to occur."

"A trauma informed critical pedagogy Realizes: - people of any age may have experienced trauma - trauma takes many forms - problematic behavior often begins as an understandable attempt to cope with trauma Recognizes: - different types of trauma that may be experienced, lived or even transferred through DNA - the signs and symptoms of trauma - educators and other adults also have trauma that may affect our behavior and responses, mindfulness is necessary Responds - by maximizing student choice - teaches and integrates tools and knowledge to aid in healing and empowerment - with tools and knowledge that is RELEVANT both culturally and personally. - in ways that RESIST re-traumatizing - to build RESILIENCY in students so they can grow and thrive."

"I'm still developing a sense of what it means and how to better enact said pedagogy in my work, but it does mean that I pay close attention to the ways in which I care for the folks in the space, in many different ways, not least by validating them and their histories, and making space for their feelings and ideas."

"In our communities and schools, we need to recognize the lived traumas of our youth; and, how the systems youth interact with also impact and contribute to the traumas they experience. Trauma-informed pedagogy considers the needs of young people when developing communities of education: It is a practice of critical pedagogy infused with social and emotional learning at the core. Educators, community stakeholders, and leaders need to help empower youth with how to lead a movement toward trauma-informed practices. Along with adult allies, young people need to be trained in trauma-informed pedagogy and be invited to the develop trauma-informed practices."

"Trauma informed pedagogy is an important component to any anti-violence based work. It becomes integral within your approach to teaching subjects that may trigger harm that a person has experienced. Understanding this means that you need to look at what you are teaching on a daily basis and recognize where people might be triggered. This is one approach to using this pedagogy because you cannot always know what might come up for a student. So while I do my own personal work around what I am teaching to identify what might come up for people I also need to create group agreements that will also recognize the trauma that someone might experience. These group agreements will work towards trying to create a safer space for young people to share their stories but to also help support each other if something comes up. I will actively practice making sure I ask my students for their opinions and not just telling them how they are supposed to feel. My understanding of this pedagogy is forever growing and changing to better support the young people I work with."

"Trauma-informed critical pedagogy means creating spaces in my classroom in which issues, events and ideas surrounding trauma can be discussed and used to facilitate healing and change within our communities, specifically, through visual arts."

"Trauma-informed pedagogy is related to the lived experiences of community members who experienced the effects of oppression, intergenerational trauma and other traumatic experiences related to healing those who have and are actively experiencing violence."

"I believe that trauma-informed critical pedagogy is the practice of extensively analyzing and searching for methods of teaching a trauma-related subject in a space with an trauma-related audience."