Rudine Sims Bishop uses a metaphor of mirrors and doors when she describes the impact of children’s literature on young people. She compares picture books to “mirrors” that reflect aspects of a child’s identity and stories as “sliding doors” that support children in encountering characters from different and unfamiliar backgrounds.82 Picture books serve as artifacts that convey cultural messages and values about society and help children learn about their world83
School—a place where adolescents spend a lot of time—is an important context where adolescents’ identity development can be supported.84 Different types of in depth and reflective explorative learning experiences can be organized to foster adolescents’ identity development. Such experiences can stimulate adolescents to explore new understandings or investigate existing self-understandings85
According to McCullough, in her study of girls in an urban school found that girls use school and the classroom environments to negotiate and extend power over their relationships with boys and teachers.86 However, she suggests that such acts of agency offer little resistance or opportunity to create systemic changes in the school environment concerning the understanding of sexism and strategies used when dealing with harassment from boys. Her study also concluded that girls’ acts of agency did not improve the conditions of the girls at their school. She contends that educators need to describe experiences of pain, oppression and suffering outside of the terms of victimhood.87
EcoJustice education is, essentially, about reframing.88 Its primary premise is the ecological crises that currently exists is the result of destructive behaviors and patterns of belief. These destructive behaviors and belief patterns reflect our “frames of reference” or mental structures by which understand our experiences. Frames of reference may be transformed through awareness and the critical reflection of one’s own and others’ assumptions upon which our interpretations, beliefs and habits of mind or points of view are based.89 Reframing is a social process requiring group deliberation and problem solving followed by action and further critical reflection.