Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

Chapter 2: Transformative Curriculum Making: A Teacher Educator's Counterstory

Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

Chapter 2: Transformative Curriculum Making: A Teacher Educator's Counterstory

Article excerpt

When we set our imaginations free from the narrow notion that a course of study is a series of textbooks or specific outline of topics to be covered and objectives to be attained, broader and more meaningful notions emerge. A curriculum can become one's life course of action. It can mean paths we have followed and paths we intend to follow. (Connelly & Clandinin, 1988, p. 1)

Curriculum is a process that attends to the paths one chooses as she composes her life. This notion of life as a course of action, as paths taken, retreated from, and new paths sought out, became evident as I struggled to compose my life as a teacher educator. I understand we compose and make sense of our life courses of action, our experiences along the paths, by inquiring into the stories we live and tell. "Humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives" (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 2).

Curriculum is central to the work of teacher educators. Teacher educators are curriculum makers, helping preservice teachers to conceptualize curriculum and explore the many paths that can be taken. Curriculum is not just a script or a blueprint. It is the meeting of the diverse lives of teachers, children and families in classroom worlds (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992). Teacher educators are powerful curricular agents; they are the "central actors" in curriculum making (Rosiek & Clandinin, 2015, p. 304). Curriculum making is of great importance, since curriculum reflects the values and beliefs of those who create it, impacting all those who use it (Freire, 1990). Curriculum is shaped through larger historical, sociopolitical and economic forces; curriculum can be a tool to reify hierarchical transmission teaching models of learning and hegemony or begin to dismantle them (Charbeneau, 2009; Freire, 1990).

Much of my teacher education work is in preparing elementary preservice teachers to teach science. Science as a discipline shows patterns of segregation along race, culture, class, and gender; transmission-style science curriculum and pedagogy perpetuate longstanding patterns of exclusion (Bang, 2014). Transmission or banking curriculum and pedagogy were documented as a trend in 2000 by the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st century, who noted, "students spend much of their time learning definitions and labels. Over a decade later, this remains to be the norm in many classrooms" (Oakes, Lipton, Anderson, & Stillman, 2013, p. 153). This chapter describes my nonlinear, ongoing journey of wondering about preparing multiple subject elementary school teachers to teach science in ways which interrupt hierarchical transmission models of learning and create inclusion.

Using critical theory as a lens to see the dialectical relation between structure and agency, I interrogate the ways my curriculum making resists hierarchy and counterhegemonic structures within my classroom (Wilson, Torres, Seiki, Ramirez, Holmes, & Watson Gegeo, 2011). Given this context, I narratively inquire into my stories of making curriculum with preservice teachers. This journey deepens insights into my paths, life stories, and struggle to become the teacher educator I imagined. Through sharing my journey through curriculum making, I seek to help others reflect on their classroom curriculum making. I do so because we have to claim our identities in order to push back against stultifying norms that dominate the academy.

My puzzle centered around who I am becoming as a curriculum maker in teacher education classes. It is embedded within other stories where it is not yet clear who teacher educators are. Are teacher educators expert teachers in university classrooms who demonstrate pedagogies they used in classrooms with their students? Are they knowledgeable researchers skilled in what studies tell us about teaching and learning? Or are they something else? And what do these questions mean for me, a science researcher and teacher educator with elementary teaching credentials? …

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