[...] courses that endeavor to provide preservice teachers with the knowledge base and understanding necessary to teach in highly diverse and urban classrooms must consider that many preservice teachers will enter these courses without any (or very limited) prior knowledge and understanding of diversity or of individuals quite different from themselves (Cochran-Smith, 1995; Finley & Adams, 2003; Ladson-Billings, 2001). [...] focus allows teacher candidates to see that their individual identity has cultural orientations that shape the ways they think about values, beliefs, communication styles (models of politeness/ formality), historical perspectives, art, music, family, rituals (graduations, sport team rallies), rites of passage (notable birthdays), and other social group activities (Katz & Ivey, 1977).
Research “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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