Review: Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success

Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success by Andratesha Fritzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fritzgerald proposes a tall order in tackling both antiracism and universal design for learning in one book--at least that might be the initial reaction for readers. But in truth, the two are a strong overlapping Venn Diagram when to comes to thinking about teaching, learning, engagement, and inclusion in our classes. Using a mixture of personal experiences, classroom situations, analogies, and reflection prompts, Fritzgerald moves through the primary pieces of universal design for learning to illustrate how each is mapped onto ideas and practices of anti-racism. Her book is not a polemic or a how-to with lots of supporting materials or exercises (for classes) per se.  Rather, she provides an earnest, well-grounded, and genuinely caring exploration of why thinking of UDL and anti-racism in tandem is so central to the success of all students. Overall, I liked the book and Fritzgerald's extensive use of movement throughout the book (driving, in particular) to help bring home the points about the value of each practice she was introducing. I can see also that she avoids directing readers to act in specific ways but more often calls upon them to both reflect and come to understand who one's students are; which makes entire sense if the goal is to invite and create a space for all students to learn.  There are two places where I think could have used a bit more improvement.  One would be a deeper and more critical discussion of UDL and antiracism that builds a bit of the historical-socio-cultural roots and its grounding in the contemporary U.S.--but that's not the book she is writing--it is more personal and more geared towards K-12 audiences but still useful for higher education and really, educators of any space.  The other is that I think drawing out how combining these approaches would be beneficial to every student--not just individually but collectively.  That is, I would have like to see a strong case for how aspects of antiracism and UDL could actually help everyone in the classroom better understand and acknowledge the ways (and traumas) that racism already exists in the classroom. Still, the book covers a lot of ground with an enthusiastic tone that will have readers excited about considering how to act on this work in the future.

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