A Three-Way Review of Gustavo Fischman's Imagining Teachers

By Hecsh, Janet; Louro, Guacira Lopes et al. | Multicultural Education, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

A Three-Way Review of Gustavo Fischman's Imagining Teachers


Hecsh, Janet, Louro, Guacira Lopes, Wong, Pia L., Multicultural Education


On the surface, Gustavo Fischman's Imagining Teachers is about contemporary teacher education in Argentina and the ways in which gender inserts itself and is inserted into this process. A careful reading reveals the truly universal maxims and insights that the book has to offer, regardless of the national context. Fischman examines gender roles and gender dynamics in teacher education from multiple perspectives. His analysis of the ways in which gender roles are constructed and reproduced at all levels of the system is compelling and has many parallels for the U.S. system. He contextualizes this discussion within a sophisticated political and social analysis of the history of public education and teacher preparation in Argentina.

This review of Imagining Teachers draws on the expertise, analysis, and experiences of three teacher educators-one from Sacramento, California, and involved with elementary teacher preparation; the second also from Sacramento, but involved in secondary teacher education; and a third from Porto Alegre, Brazil. After a brief summary of the major points in the book, each of Fischman's peers offers analysis and reflections about the book and some of the challenges it poses to those of us involved in teacher preparation. This comparative and international "dialogue" about Imagining Teachers comes at an important juncture, as we are all, each in our national contexts, faced with moral, ethical, intellectual, and professional dilemmas posed by an increasingly standardized and highstakes public education system.

The introduction to Imagining Teachers poses several key questions that provide the organizational framework for the remaining chapters. Among the questions that Fischman urges readers to contemplate are: what kinds of teachers do we as teacher educators try to prepare in our teacher preparation institutions? What are the primary qualities that we hope these future teachers will have? What kinds of data and information can we collect and consult to ascertain the ways in which these teachers are developing said qualities? To what extent do teacher educators' objectives for the teaching force match with those of students in a teacher preparation program? How will our efforts and those of future teachers be impacted by broader events in the social and political context of our localities and the world? And finally, what are some of the contradictions inherent in our responses and how will we negotiate these contradictions?

In Chapter One, issues of gender, power, and identity are explored and defined. In this triumvirate, power and gender shape identity formation. In the case of gender, Fischman uses the Argentine national cultural icons of tango, machismo, and marianismo (the "Maria" complex) to weave an artful analysis of gender expectations and roles that contribute to the "gender" regime in teacher education.

In Chapters Two and Three, Fischman provides background into the methodology of his study and into the historical context of teacher education in Argentina. In his methodology, discussed in detail below, he employs creative methods for data collection (e.g., analysis of images produced over time by student teachers) and adheres to conventions of qualitative inquiry through the use of surveys, focus groups, and interviews. His review of Argentine teacher education history probes key issues in depth and highlights the major ideological and paradigmatic foundations of teacher education practice. The integration of an analysis of national and international economic and political trends enriches his analysis of the evolution of teacher education programs, highlighting the ways in which the local is eminently shaped by the global, even before the advent of globalization.

Chapter Four, entitled "Teacher Tango," contains the bulk of the data analysis and highlights the major themes. The chapter begins with an analysis of the survey data which reveals the dominant trends in teacher candidate characteristics in six teacher education programs in Buenos Aires.

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