Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Global Crises, Social Justice, and Teacher Education

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Global Crises, Social Justice, and Teacher Education

Article excerpt

When the U.S. government released its 2007 census figures in January 2010, it reported that 12% of the U.S. population--more than 38 million people--were foreign born. First-generation people were now one out of every eight persons in the nation, with 80% coming from Latin America and Asia (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This near-record transformation, one in which diasporic populations now constitute a large and growing percentage of communities throughout the nation and an ever-growing proportion of children in our schools, documents one of the most profound reasons that we must think globally about education. This transformation is actually something of which we should be proud. The United States and a number of other nations are engaged in a vast experiment that has rarely been attempted before. Can we build a nation and a culture from resources and people from all over the world? The impacts of these global population flows on education and on teacher education are visible all around us.

No discussion of globalization and its relation to teacher education can be sufficient without an understanding of globalization in general. (1) Because of this, in this article I want to do a number of things. First, I want to argue for a broader understanding of globalization and its effects and point to some implications that this has for teachers and teacher educators as they try to comprehend and act on their changing situations. Second, I shall remind us of some "first principles" that should guide our understanding and actions. Third, I will point to some key works that should be required reading for anyone who wants to take seriously the realities of the effects of globalization on many of the countries and regions from where new populations may come. And, finally, I provide a detailed set of tasks in which critically democratic educators and researchers need to engage if we are to take seriously our responsibilities in building and defending institutions, practices, and intellectual/political traditions that will enable us to understand and act on current realities. My agenda is a large one. Because of this, I can only outline a series of steps toward more critical understandings of globalization. But our problems are large as well. In my notes and references, I provide further resources that are critical for going further into the issues I raise.

Understanding Globalization

If one were to name an issue that can be found near the top of the list of crucial topics within the critical education literature, it would be globalization. It is a word with extraordinary currency. This is the case not only because of trendiness. Exactly the opposite is true. It has become ever more clear that education cannot be understood without recognizing that nearly all educational policies and practices are strongly influenced by an increasingly integrated international economy that is subject to severe crises; that reforms and crises in one country have significant effects in others; and that immigration and population flows from one nation or area to another have tremendous impacts on what counts as official knowledge, what counts as a responsive and effective education, what counts as appropriate teaching, and the list could continue for quite a while (see Burbules & Torres, 2009; Dale & Robertson, 2009; Peters, 2005; Rhoads & Tortes, 2006). Indeed, as I show in Educating the "Right" Way (Apple, 2006) and Global Crises, Social Justice, and Education (Apple, 2010a), all of these social and ideological dynamics and many more are now fundamentally restructuring what education does, how it is controlled, and who benefits from it throughout the world.

While localities and national systems affect the processes of globalization differently and provide different contexts for struggles, a homogenization of educational policies and practices, driven by what Santos (2003) calls "monocultural logics," is very clearly evident within and between settings. …

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