Canada Seminar


Monday, October 3, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Room K262 (Bowie Vernon Room), 2nd Floor, WCFIA, Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Canadian Public Schools:
Restorative Justice Pedagogy as Transformative Education

Crystena Parker-Shandal, University of Waterloo

Crystena Parker-Shandal is Associate Professor of Social Development Studies at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, Canada. As a restorative justice practitioner and researcher, she focuses on how dialogic pedagogies facilitate inclusive spaces where all students can participate and have their voices heard. She is the co-editor of Finding Refuge in Canada: Narratives of dislocation and co-founder of the Refugee Storybank of Canada.


Classroom teachers transmit values feet-first through the roles and relations of power their students practice within daily pedagogies.  Pedagogies that do not invite students’ constructive engagement with contrasting viewpoints, and attend to all students’ articulated concerns, reinforce social exclusion of those whose perspectives are unheard.  Like punitive discipline that disproportionately harms racially marginalized students, exclusionary pedagogies legitimize marginalization and push some young people out into the “school-to-prison pipeline”[1].  Feasible alternatives exist.  Restorative justice peace circles, inspired and informed by the problem-solving dialogue practices of Indigenous peoples, are a pedagogical tool to empower, include, and attend to all students’ voices—to pull them in rather than push them out, building just, peaceful relations through dialogue.  Ethnographic research on the lived experiences of students and teachers in urban Canadian elementary schools demonstrates the potentially transformative power of constructive dialogue about conflicts embedded in ordinary curriculum subject matter through restorative justice peace circle pedagogies. The realities of the school-to-prison pipeline mirror the pandemic of world system inequities: it is time for a fundamental shift in how educators approach and respond to conflict.

  Heitzeg, Nancy A. (2009). "Education or Incarceration: Zero Tolerance Policies and the School to Prison Pipeline" (PDF). Forum on Public Policy Online (2). ERIC EJ870076. 
 Schiff, Mara (April 6, 2018). "Can restorative justice disrupt the 'school-to-prison pipeline?'" Contemporary Justice Review 21 (2): 121-139. doi:10.1080/10282580.2018.1455509. S2CID 150107321.

See also: Canada Seminar