Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

QUEERING TEACHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM: A Case Study of Lessons Learned in the Transformation of a Teacher Education Program

Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

QUEERING TEACHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM: A Case Study of Lessons Learned in the Transformation of a Teacher Education Program

Article excerpt


UOTeach is a 15-month course of graduate study at the University of Oregon that earns students a master's degree and teacher certification. This program was established in 2008 as a replacement for a previously existing teacher education program that had been criticized by local educators and students for failing to address diversity issues in schools sufficiently. The UOTeach program was designed to make attention to justice, inclusion, and difference a core part of its curriculum.

Our analysis of UOTeach is primarily based on the experiences and recollections of the three authors. Jerry Rosiek, Department Head from 2006-2010, held responsibility for shepherding the programmatic changes through University and State level review processes. Alison Schmitke has been the Department Director of Undergraduate Programs and an instructor in UOTeach since 2007. Julie Heffernan has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the department since 2009 and is currently the Director of the UOTeach master's program. Each of the authors witnessed the department's change process from unique angles, the triangulation of which informed this report.

We also draw upon approximately forty interviews with students, faculty, and local activists conducted from 2007-2011. Interviews subjects were identified opportunistically, focusing on those persons most involved with various stages of the change process. We did not randomly sample interview respondents from the general population to enable generalizable claims about the opinions of the whole population. Instead, we chose these interviewees for triangulating the interpretations of the authors in the analysis, to provide a check against the discursive and ideological limits on our own ability to see what was happening in front of us.

To this end, we coded the interviews for various topical themes through organizing and reviewing respondents' views. With accounts we developed to document specific moments in the department's change process, we cross checked these sources, resulting in more robust and detailed accounts of the events in question.


At its broadest level this chapter is framed by feminist poststructuralist and queer poststructuralist theory (Butler 1990, 1993, 2004; Foucault 1998; Lather, 2006; Namaste, 2000; St. Pierre & Pillow, 1999; Valentine, 2007). This theory identifies diversity, racial identity, immigration status, gender, and sexual identity as socially distributed and linguistically mediated forms of social practice. These discursive formations influence and organize human action, which has material effects. Material effects in turn influence and are interpreted by people, usually reinforcing the discursive formations that precipitated the actions and effects. Within this view, analysis critically surfaces the self-reproducing nature of the discursive constructs that shape our thoughts and actions. For our study, we sought to identify the way silences about the need to address the needs of LGBTQ students and families gets reproduced even in the context of a social justice focused reform of a teacher education program.

The work is also informed at a general level by contemporary pragmatist scholarship (Colapietro, 2011; Koopman, 2009, 2011; Hickman, 2007; Pratt, 2002, 2004; Rosiek, 2013; Seigfried, 1996; Sorrell, 2004; Sullivan, 2011; West, 1989), which shares with poststructuralism a social-constructivist conception of identity and practice, but which places more emphasis on the salience of first person experience as a source of insight for understanding social and institutional processes (Clandinin & Rosiek, 2006). These experiences, through a pragmatist lens, are not regarded as authoritative accounts of a prediscursive reality. Instead, they are offered as culturally contingent accounts of the reality of living within intersecting discourses. …

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