Dr. Brian Gibbs, Assistant Professor

Dr. Brian Gibbs
Charter College of Education
Curriculum and Instruction
King Hall A2408


Dr. Brian Gibbs is Assistant Professor of Social Studies and Teacher Education. Gibbs earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, Madison studying Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on social studies education and critical theory. He holds degrees in History (BA), Social Studies Education (BS) and a minor in Political Science from Miami University (OH). Gibbs participated in Indiana University's (Bloomington) American Indian Project (AIP). Gibbs also earned an M.Ed in Leadership and School Change from UCLA's Principal's Leadership Institute (P.L.I.). 

Dr. Gibbs taught social studies for 16 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District at Hollenbeck Middle School (1 year) and Roosevelt High School (15 years) both in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Prior to this, Gibbs student taught in Shiprock, New Mexico in the Navajo Nation where he lived with students, formerly incarcerated youth in the Shiprock Residential Dormitory. He is twice Nationally Board Certified first in 1999 and again in 2008.

Gibbs is interested in teaching and learning as a critical and justice focused project. His research focuses on the limits and possibilities of the teaching and learning of critical social studies in complex political, social, cultural, and ideological contexts and its implications for teacher education.

His research includes:

How war is taught to the children of soldiers near military bases and whether it can be taught authentically and critically in this context. Gibbs has used to this data to write about civic agency and engagement, trauma informed pedagogy, community pressure, and teacher decision making. 

A design study centering on a co-created three week unit of instruction teaching war through a critical lens and centering the history of the American anti-war movement. He has used this study to examine critical civic literacy, civic agency and activism, discussion as a pedagogic delivery system as a form of organizing and student perspective on teaching and learning.

A multi-case study examining how racial violence (particularly lynching) was taught in school communities impacted by racial violence (within 15 miles of a historic lynching. Gibbs used this study to write about trauma informed pedagogy, community pressure, the use of critical civic agency and activism as a way to taught about complicated history, the use of violent images in instruction, and pedagogical choice. This multi-case study was expanded to examine how these teachers taught about racial violence and racial justice in the wake of the murder of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey, and George Floyd. 

A multi-case study examining how justice oriented social studies teachers teach for justice in school environments that were unsupportive or hostile to this approach. This study is a longitudinal study examining the pedagogical and curricular decisions teachers in real time. This study was expanded after the legislation focused on ending Critical Race Theory. The study examined how teachers reacted and responded to this legislation. 

Gibbs is also investigating student perspective on the role of critical civic literacy, agency and activism in the social studies curriculum. This has been and continues to be done through a series of student focus groups using civic minded texts in Socratic Seminar style discussions. The texts have included Letter From A Birmingham City JailCivil Disobedience, and Communique’ #1.

Gibbs’ current study is an examination of whiteness and Ethnic Studies, specifically examining how white social studies teachers understand and teach Ethnic Studies and how students of color experience this teaching. As part of this study Gibbs interviewed Ethnic Studies elders gathering their advice for white teachers seeking to teach Ethnic Studies powerfully. 

He formerly held faculty positions at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (clinical faculty), UCLA (lecturer), USC (adjunct), Antioch-Los Angeles (adjunct), and the Claremont Graduate University (adjunct).


Selected Publications 

Peer Reviewed

Gibbs, B. C. (2024). "We should know everything shouldn't we?": Children of soldiers on what and how war should be taught. Journal of Social Studies Research. 

Gibbs, B. C. (2023). "My people wouldn't stand for that." Ethnic Studies as Critical Civic Edudation. Journal of Social Studies Research. 

Gibbs, B. C. (2023). "We need to talk about this more.": Students on just war and how to end war. Educational Studies Journal. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00131946.2023.2235446?src=

Gibbs, B. C. (2022). Strange fruit: Teaching the past and present of racial violence. Equity and Excellence in Education.

Gibbs, B. C. & Hilburn, J.  (2022). In the shadow of the base: Teaching war to the children of soldiers. Journal of Social Studies Research.

Gibbs, B. C. (2021). “So, my grandfather’s two tours meant nothing?”: Students struggle with the weight and responsibility of war. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Gibbs, B. C. (2021). The testimonio of political radicalization. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy special edition focused on Testimonio Research’s Aesthetic Dimension.

Gibbs, B. C. (2021). Images of Violence: Can Lynching Photographs Prepare Students for the World? Educational Studies, Vol. 17, Issue 3.

Gibbs, B. C. & Papoi, K. (2021). “We are still here”: (not) teaching disruption, interruption, resistance, and the creation of change. Making a Spectacle: Examining Curriculum and Pedagogy as Recovery from Political Trauma.

Gibbs, B. C. & Hilburn, J. (2020). “No one should see what they have to do”: Military children Wrestle with media coverage of America at war. Journal of Social Studies Research Vol. 45.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Teaching our way out of nuclear war. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 105-118.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Critically examining war: A classroom catch-22. The Ohio Social Studies Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 35-42.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Between the visceral and the lie: Lessons on teaching violence. Intersections: Critical Issues in Education, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 3-20.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Struggles and testimonios: Critical teaching in classrooms of healing. Journal of Curriculum Studies Research, Vol. 2, Issue 1, pp. 95-111.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Word Capture, straight refusal, teaching well and other forms of resistance. The development of critical teacher agency. Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 47, Number 1.

Gibbs, B. C. & Papoi, K. (2020): Threading the needle: Teaching critically with socio-emotional health in mind. The Bank Street College of Education Occasional Paper SeriesPossibilities and Problems in Trauma-Based and Social Emotional Learning Programs, No. 43, Article 13, pp. 101-112.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). The foot and the flag: Patriotism, place, and the teaching of war in a military town. Democracy and Education, Vol. 28, No. 1.

Gibbs, B. C. (2019). Politics, pressure, and patriotism: Teaching for civic agency in base country. In Cohen-Vogel, L. (Ed.) Peabody Journal of Education Special Themed Edition: Civic Education in the U.S.

Gibbs, B. C. (2019). “I guess I realized how tired I had become”: In defense of social justice Teaching. In Critical Education, Vol. 10, No. 10.

Gibbs, B. C. (2019). Violence, horror, and the visual image: How teachers speak about the difference between the use of photographs of war and photographs of lynching. Ideating pedagogy in troubled times.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). Las Traviesas: Critical feminist educators in their struggle for critical teaching. Critical intersections in contemporary curriculum and pedagogy.  

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). “Who is that man? He’s in all the pictures.”: Bayard Rustin and the Too Straight History of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The Social Studies Journal.

Gibbs, B. C. (2017). Rigor for what?: Social studies teacher conceptions and enactments of instructional rigor. The Social Studies.

Book Chapters

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Learning to teach against white social studies: Towards a true criticality. In Hawkman, A. and Shear, S. (Eds.) Marking the Invisible: Articulating Whiteness in Social Studies Education and Research.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). Word capture, straight refusal, teaching well and other forms of resistance: Teaching for social justice in unsupported environments. In L. Wilcox (Ed.), It’s Being Done In Social Studies: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in the Pre/K-12 Curriculum. New York: Peter Lang.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). The truth that hangs from the limbs of the trees: The pedagogical complexities and straight difficulty of teaching the history of lynching to ethnically diverse students. In W. Blankenship (Ed.), Teaching the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1948-1976. New York: Peter Lang.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). “It’s like we were slow roasted…but in a good way”: Youth Participation Action Research in a year long U.S. History course. In Pennel, S., Boyd, A., Parkhouse, H., LaGarry, A. (Eds.), Possibilities in Practice: Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines. New York: Peter Lang.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). The bending of history made straight. In Shear, S., Tschida, C., Bellows, E., Buchanan, L. B., Saylor, L. (Eds.), Making Controversial Issues Relevant for Elementary Social Studies: A Critical Reader. New York: Information Age.

Gibbs, B. C. (2016). On being a renegade. In R. Agarwal-Rangath, A. G. Dover and N. Henning (Eds.), Preparing to teach social studies for social justice (Becoming a renegade): The letters. Retrieved from http://socialstudiesforsocialjustice.com/letters.html


Gibbs, B. C. (2021). What we mean when we say rigor. In Principal Leadership, 7(3), pp. 51-53.

Gibbs, B. C. (2017). The complicated pursuit of democratic teaching. In Phi Delta Kappan 99 (4) pp. 21-25.

Gibbs, B. C. (2016). When Emma entered the room. In Cosier, K., Harper, R., Sapp, J., Sokolower, J., and Temple, M. B. (Eds.), Rethinking sexism, gender, and sexuality. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Gibbs, B. C. (2015). With discussion great risk can equal great reward. Social Education, vol. 79 no. 5.

Gibbs, B. C. (2015). When Emma Goldman entered the room: Dealing with the unexpected in role play. Rethinking Schools29(2), 42-46.

Gibbs, B. C. (2014). Reconfiguring Bruner: Compressing the spiral curriculum. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(7), 41-44.

Gibbs, B. C. (2014). The history all around us: Roosevelt High School and the 1968 eastside blowouts. In Au, W. (Ed.), Rethinking multicultural education: Teaching for racial and cultural justice. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Gibbs, B. C. (2011). The history all around us: Roosevelt High School and the 1968 eastside blowouts.  Rethinking Schools, 25(2), 44-48.

Book Reviews

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). Review of the book Democracy’s schools: The rise of public education in America. In Teachers College Press.

Gibbs, B. C. (2014, December 15). Review of the book The new American high schoolEducation review / Reseñas educativas: A multi-lingual journal of book reviews. Retrieved from http://edrev.info/reviews/rev1343.pdf

Creative Scholarship

Gibbs, B.C. (2020). Grant, Garner, Rice and teaching on. Making a spectacle: Examining curriculum/pedagogy as recovery from political trauma.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). The teacher. A short story in Andrew Kemp’s (Ed.) Emancipating Pedagogies.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). The first time I meant it: A Poem. Major Threat: Punk Rock Academia, Vol. 1.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). The best part of teaching and learning: Towards a punk rock pedagogy: A poem. Major Threat: Punk Rock Academia, Vol. 2.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). How to win arguments. Major Threat: Punk Rock Academia, Vol. 4.

Gibbs, B. C. (2019). Somewhere on the road to Damascus. A poem in Ideating pedagogy in troubled times.

Gibbs, B. C. (2019). The woman of La Mancha (Central High). A poem in Ideating pedagogy in troubled times.

Op-Eds, Commentary, and Blogs

Gibbs, B. C. (2022). Teaching and Learning Through a Pandemic. Common Dreams. Retrieved from: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/02/20/teaching-and-learning-through-pandemic.

Gibbs, B. C. (2022). North Carolina’s new education bill promotes historical erasure and white supremacy. Common Dreams. Retrieved from: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/02/08/north-carolinas-new-education-bill-promotes-historical-erasure-and-white-supremacy.

Gibbs, B. (2021). Teaching into and through burnout. Teachers College Record. Retrieved from: https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=23579.

Gibbs, B. C. (2020). Teaching war so that it matters. Common Dreams. Retrieved from https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/01/20/teaching-war-so-it-matters.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). Teaching in the now. Teachers College Record. https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=22599.

Gibbs, B. C. (2018). Selling out and other sins of the justice-oriented educator. Teachers College Record. Retrieved from https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=22468.

Gibbs, B. C. (2017). Innovation school district is an empty term for Durham. In the Charlotte News and Observer. Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article179856741.html.

Gibbs, B. C. & Gibbs, H. K. (2016). Readying students for the conflagration. In Rethinking Schools Blog. Retrieved from https://rethinkingschoolsblog.com/2016/08/08/readying-students-for-the-conflagration/.

Gibbs, B. C. (2014, August 13). The Advanced Placement numbers racket. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-gibbs-ap-classes-20140813-story.html.

Gibbs, B. C. (December 13, 2013). An ode to John the Savage. Teachers College Record.  Retrieved from http://www.tcrecord.org/content.asp?contentid=17365.

Gibbs, B. C. (September 20, 2013). Cultivating student teachers for multi-dimensional engagement. Teachers College Record.  Retrieved from http://www.tcrecord.org/content.asp?contentid=17259.

Gibbs, B. C. (January 8, 2010). Seeing the world through Mississippi eyes.  [Web log].  Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/blog/seeing-world-through-mississippi-eyes.

Gibbs, B. C. (December 11, 2009). The lessons are all around you. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/blog/lessons-are-all-around-you.

Gibbs, B. C. (December 3, 2009).  Confronting the five-year itch. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/blog/confronting-five-year-itch.

Gibbs, B. C. (December 1, 2009). The absolutely true confessions of an intellectual stalker, part 1. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/blog/absolutely-true-confessions-intellectual-stalker-part-i.

Gibbs, B. C. (October 28, 2009). Ted and me: In memoriam. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/blog/ted-and-me-memoriam.