Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Preparing Multicultural Teacher Educators: Toward a Pedagogy of Transformation

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Preparing Multicultural Teacher Educators: Toward a Pedagogy of Transformation

Article excerpt


As the population of the United States becomes more diverse, (Banks, 2006; Irvine, 2003) both challenges and opportunities are created for the educational system. The gap that currently exists between a predominantly White, middle class, female teaching workforce and an increasingly heterogeneous population of students is one of the key factors that shapes these challenges. In an attempt to address this gap and better serve the needs of all children, Banks (2006) has advocated that every level of education should be "substantially reformed and educators must acquire new knowledge and skills" (p. xvii).

The efforts of teacher education programs in this endeavor are critical to any hope for successful change. It stands to reason, however, that if the majority of teacher educators come from positions within teaching, then they are likely to be more similar to those currently entering the teaching workforce than to the students occupying seats in classrooms (Melnick & Zeichner, 1998). With this in mind, it is imperative for doctoral programs in education to follow the lead of the multicultural teacher education literature and help future teacher educators cultivate the strategies and habits of mind necessary for preparing culturally responsive teachers.

The research reported here examines the experiences of students in a doctoral seminar in critical pedagogy that attempts to foster multicultural knowledge and dispositions by providing future teacher educators with opportunities to examine their sociocultural identities while critically exploring the current system of education in the United States. Specifically, the focus is to understand the impact the course had on participants' personal and professional beliefs and practices. Additionally, the researchers were interested in features of the seminar that explained its impact on the participants. Insights from the study have implications for transforming teacher educators and are therefore relevant to successful multicultural teacher education.

Literature Review

For close to two decades educational scholars have called for changes in teacher education programs to prepare for the increasingly diverse student population in America's schools (Banks, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Villegas & Lucas, 2002). As a result, a significant body of literature has accumulated to support the development of culturally relevant pedagogy for future and practicing teachers. As a backdrop for this paper, we provide a brief synthesis of the teacher education literature on strategies for developing sociocultural awareness. In addition, we review the limited literature that addresses the role of teacher educators in preparing preservice teachers to work with diverse students. We situate the literature and our research within the framework of Mezirow's (2000) theory of adult transformative learning.

Influenced by the concepts of paradigm (Kuhn, 1962), constructed consciousness, conscientization (Freire, 1970), hegemony (Gramsci, 1971), and Habermas's (1984) notions of the role of discourse and reflection in learning and examining assumptions, Mezirow (2000) has written extensively on the concept of transformative learning which he defines as "the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference" (p. 6). He asserts that transformation takes place through a process of critical reflection that is facilitated by open dialogue in a safe setting. In conjunction with this reflection and dialogue, "Transformation Theory's focus is on how we learn to negotiate and act on our own purposes, values, feelings, and meanings rather than those we have uncritically assimilated from others" (Mezirow, 2000, p. 8). This addition of individual agency in transformative learning is critical as Paprock (1992) writes that, "a mindful transformative learning experience requires that the learner make an informed and reflective decision to act on his or her reflective insight" (p. …

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