"Upsetting the Apple Cart": Issues of Diversity in Preservice Teacher Education by ProQuest


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                                           “Upsetting the Apple Cart”
                     Issues of Diversity in Preservice Teacher Education

                                                          Tonda Liggett & Susan Finley

                 Introduction                           as teachers. In this study, the likelihood      their own ideologies are influenced by the
                                                        that they would broach such topics was          assumptions they make of people from
	     Over	the	last	decade,	teacher	prepara-            directly	related	to	the	candidates’	percep-     different backgrounds (Hinkel, 1999;
tion	programs	at	colleges	and	universities	             tions of whether their future teaching          Liggett,	 2008).	 Addressing	 the	 relatively	
across	the	United	States	have	attempted	                positions would be jeopardized by doing so.     unexamined culture of the self is important
to	respond	to	the	challenges	of	preparing	              We	maintain	that	the	teacher	candidates’	       in confronting underlying issues of power
teachers	for	the	increasing	diversity	that	             concern	about	engaging	in	practices	that	       that work to sustain certain knowledge
is	 represented	 in	 public	 schools	 today.	           “would rock the boat” within their school       forms	and	solidify	the	positionality	of	the	
Teacher	programs	have	responded	to	these	               context was due to a disconnect between         White race in the context of teacher educa-
challenges	by	altering	courses,	curriculum,	            understanding	the	possibilities	of	enacting	    tion—with the result being the racial-cul-
fieldwork experiences, and other policies to            positive	change	on	an	individual	level	ver-     tural	divide	in	school	achievement.	Being	
include	a	diversity	and	multicultural	edu-              sus the daunting undertaking of striving        unaware of how dominant culture validates
cation	focus	(Cochran-Smith	&	Zeichner,	                to	 change	 school	 culture	 or	 educational	   knowledge structures such as written and
2005;	Finley,2000).	Such	a	response	aligns	             institutions as new teachers.                   spoken discourse could cause teachers to
with research that has indicated that                        We argue that explicitly identifying       misinterpret the alternative knowledge
preservice	 teachers	 often	 enter	 teacher	            and	modeling	language	that	teacher	candi-       structures that inform their students think-
education courses with no conception of,                dates	can	use	in	their	classrooms	is	a	nec-     ing in ways that disadvantage, rather than
interest	in,	or	concern	about,	cultural	and	            essary component to increasing the likeli-      empower them (Liggett, 2009).
racial	diversity	(Milner,	2007).                        hood that teachers will develop a praxis        	     The	 underlying	 set	 of	 factors	 that	
	     These	 teacher	 education	 students	              that	foregrounds	the	multicultural	content	     directly generate the discursive field take
adopt color-blind (Johnson, 2002; Lewis,                that	they	encounter	in	their	teacher	edu-       place at what Foucault (1972) calls the pre-
2001;	 Milner,	 2005)	 and	 culture-blind	              cation courses. In this way, new teachers       conceptual	level.	One	social	consequence	of	
ideologies	(Ford,	Moore,	&	Milner,	2005)	               may be more likely to implement theories        this discursive field is the establishment
that	 obscure	 the	 enormous,	 central,	 and	           of social justice that are emphasized in        of a hierarchy of humankind where racial
profound influences that race and culture               many	teacher	education	programs	today.          classification—the	 ordering	 of	 human	
have	on	an	individual’s	teaching	and	learn-                                                             groups	on	the	basis	of	inherited	or	environ-
ing.	Thus,	courses	that	endeavor	to	provide	                                                            mental	 differences—implies	 that	 certain	
                                                               Theoretical Framework
preservice teachers with the knowledge                                                                  races	 are	 superior	 to	 others	 (Goldberg,	
base	and	understanding	necessary	to	teach	              	    Important	to	the	analysis	in	this	ar-      1993). Breaking down preconceptions and
in	 highly	 diverse	 and	 urban	 classrooms	            ticle	is	the	notion	of	teacher	identity	and	    dismantling	 the	 established	 discursive	
must	consider	that	many	preservice	teach-               the influence that identity factors have on     fields	 are	 necessary	 acts	 in	 preparing	
ers will enter these courses without any (or            teaching. There are many influential fac-       teachers	for	diverse	classrooms.
very limited) prior knowledge and under-                tors	that	contribute	to	an	individual’s	self-         In conjunction with the hierarchical
standing	of	diversity	or	of	individuals	quite	          identity,	such	as	race,	ethnicity,	culture,	    social	structures	that	frame	individual	no-
different	from	themselves	(Cochran-Smith,	              class, gender, sexual orientation, religion,    tions	of	race	and	culture,	neoliberal	factors	
1995;	Finley	&	Adams,	2003;	Ladson-Bill-                physical	ability,	age,	and	so	on.	In	studies	   influence preservice teachers’ willingness
ings,	2001).	                                           of	 American	 mainstream	 teachers	 and	        to	 incorporate	 diversity	 into	 curriculum	
      This article examines the relation-               the factors that influence their pedagogy,      design	 and	 teaching	 practice.	 Canadian	
ship between the attitudes of preservice                White	racial	membership	and	the	cultural	       scholar Elizabeth Brule (2004) argues that
teachers towards discussing controver-                  positionality	that	this	inherently	implies	     the corporatization of the university has
sial diversity topics with peers and the                has been shown to have implications for         constructed	students	as	rational,	economic	
likelihood that they would address them                 teacher/student interactions in ways that       decision makers. As such, the only choices
                                                        limit	minority	student	academic	achieve-        that	are	acceptably	rational	are	those	that	
                                                        ment	(Delpit,	1995;	Ladson-Billings,	2001;	     increase	one’s	employment	opportunities	
              Tonda Liggett is an assistant professor   Sleeter,	1996).
         and Susan Finley is an associate professor,                                                    within the confines of the labor market.
                                                        	    This	situation	is	furth
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