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Confronting Intolerance

Critical, Responsive Literacy Instruction with Adult Immigrants

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Stephen G. Mogge

Confronting Intolerance: Critical, Responsive Literacy Instruction with Adult Immigrants captures the experience of adult immigrants who are improving their English literacy while confronting an intolerant political culture. It examines recent immigration policy and the anti-immigrant fervor that has gripped the United States and describes the perseverance and struggles of immigrant students to pursue their goals through literacy education.
The book offers a powerful and vivid example of critical pedagogy blended with sociocultural perspectives of literacy education in an effort to raise student consciousness and alter the political culture. Confronting Intolerances is an ethnographic, teacher research narrative that describes a year in the life of the author’s classroom with adult Latino immigrants, mostly Mexican, in a Chicago, Illinois (USA) settlement house.
Specific focus is given to immigrant students’ response to reading material that was selected to meet individual ambitions but was also selected to meet the concerns and anxieties that surfaced in response to the intolerant climate. The book describes students’ engagement with narrative and informational reading and displays the students’ evolving perspectives on politics, economics, culture, and race as these relate to Latino immigrants in the United States.
Through extensive classroom dialogue and descriptions of students engaged in political activities, the book explores the students’ emerging sense of what it means to become “American” amidst an immigrant backlash. It takes the reader through a year in a settlement house classroom, and reveals the hopes, dreams, and struggles of immigrants who continue to pursue America’s promises—those realized and those broken.

The Construction of Disability in our Schools

Teacher and Parent perspectives on the experience of labelled students

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Kathryn Underwood

This book is about the meaning of disability in schools. The experience of children with disabilities in schools has undergone substantial change over the last twenty years (and more) with many children who would have once been living in institutions now going to school alongside their peers. With this monumental shift and the continuing increased participation of people with disabilities, one might wonder what disability means. In the age of institutionalisation disability referred to those people who were not able to actively participate in society. As it turns out, many of the people who were deemed unable to participate were so only because the society in which they lived had kept them from active participation through institutionalisation. In Ontario, Canada, where the author lives and works, many adults with disabilities continue to live in institutions and are also active in their communities. So it is not just the institutions that “disable” people. There are many reasons that people fall into the classification of “disabled” and for some this classification begins in an institution, often in the institution of school. This book explores the different beliefs that teachers and parents hold about disability and the types of barriers that cause disability, and how these beliefs translate into education practice.

Scott D. Robinson

A Contemporary Autobiography of a Science Educator reminds readers that they teach who they are, and understanding who they are is fundamental for meaningful communication and effective classroom instruction. The book is for science educators, teacher educators, and others who wish to examine their own personal and professional identities in the social and cultural contexts in which their lives are embedded. Just as teaching can be viewed as relationship with others, this contemporary autobiography is situated on the significance of relationship with self. As a contemporary autobiography, the narrative reveals the author’s subjective truths while digging deeply into psychosocial motives of power and intimacy. The author reflects on his personal choices and career decisions that led him into and out of high school science teaching. The book contains stories and reflections from summer work camp experiences, undergraduate college days, teacher preparation episodes, and high school science teaching. Story themes are diversity and leadership, group identity and motivation, urban teaching and teacher preparation, and high school science teaching. These themes evolve out of nuclear episodes of the author’s storied life that brings present day understanding and meaning from past actions and interactions. This kind of critical introspection may hold special relevance for teachers, teacher educators, and others who wish to make their own identities salient and relevant to their own needs and interests as well as the needs and interests of students, teacher candidates, and clients whom they serve.

Critical Literacies in Action

Social Perspectives and Teaching Practices

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Edited by Karyn Cooper and Robert E. White

Critical Literacies in Action: Social Perspectives and Teaching Practices asks how educators can become more experienced in order to truly support literacy, particularly for children of poverty or for those who have been labeled “at-risk”. This is especially important in current times, since a literate individual is one who is more successfully able to situate him- or herself within a continuum of lifelong learning in order to fulfill personal goals and to participate fully within the wider societyal context.
Although the word “literacy” has been with us for a very long time, the very meaning of the term itself has become increasingly complex due to a multiplicity of factors. At least in part, this complexity is a function of expanding and interconnecting notions of what it is that constitutes modern literacy as well as the increasingly technological nature of the world within which individuals live and learn. As such, a new horizon in literacy research has appeared, promising to renegotiate traditional definitions of the term “literate” and what it means to be critically literate in this increasingly complex world.
Definitions of literacy have also evolved along with the evolution of the computer. Currently, the term “literacy” describes a commitment to and participation in a multiplicity of meaning making systems, many of which exhibit ever-greater degrees of interdependence with one another. The term “Critical Literacy” has come into use relatively recently and is generally regarded as a sub-category of Critical Pedagogy—“Critical” because it promotes an agenda for positive social change.

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Edited by Anne Phelan and Jennifer Sumsion

Like other fields of study, teacher education defines itself both by what it includes and by what it excludes. Teacher educators and researchers have spent a great deal of time seeking and attempting to eradicate the flaws in existing structures and practices, but significantly less time learning to perceive the absences. The premise of this book is that until we can identify and begin to address what is absent, teacher education will be constrained by a perennial recycling of concerns that have characterized so much of research, policy and practice to date. If teacher education is to have a different future, we need to ask different and difficult questions. This book, with contributions from theorists in Australia, Canada and the United States, addresses the challenges we face in establishing a more hopeful future for teacher education. The authors’ provocative contributions identify what is ‘missing’ in teacher education while providing critical counterpoints to existing frames of reference in the field. In writing ‘against the grain’ they open up new conceptual spaces and exciting trajectories for a different teacher education.

Critiquing Praxis

Conceptual and Empirical Trends in the Teaching Profession

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Edited by Jan Ax and Petra Ponte

Critiquing Praxis describes the contemporary state of the teaching profession based on different aspects of Dutch educational praxis, and the descriptions are followed by reflections from Australia and Scandinavian perspectives. Its critique of the current state of the profession, especially in the face of the centralisation of education policy and the decentralisation of responsibility to schools, has widespread application elsewhere in the world. The volume does not aim to judge those who made choices about schools and teacher education in the past; rather it aims to offer an evaluation of how the perspectives that shaped past choices were themselves shaped by ways of understanding the world, and by past historical conditions. In our turn, we who are making such choices and responding to such challenges now will ourselves be judged by history. That being so, we should prepare ourselves by learning from history. Critiquing Praxis offers us a unique opportunity to do that with a praxis model for critique that is mainly based on European perspectives in pedagogy and sociology.

Bryant Griffith

Education is a dance of complexity and struggle. Unfortunately, our educational system is tied to the observable and the verifiable, not the randomness of human beings and their diverse forms of expression. The reality of the contemporary classroom is a context of multifaceted diversity, with each classroom reflecting unique combinations of ideology, culture, and language, played out in numerous forms and permutations of multi-textual discourses. The influence of each contextual space is only limited by one’s ability to understand its complexity and to acknowledge it.
Teachers and learners are roommates of sorts, connected by the web of discourse and praxis, woven inside the global community. We live in a world where common understanding is desperately sought, yet one where language is often not tied to common understanding. Exploring the need for shared community within this context, Griffith provides a path in which the diverse ways of knowing can interlace to form pedagogical moments in which teachers and learners can deconstruct and construct alternatives.
Cultural narration is based on a series of social relationships, which can be compared to reading the world as a series of texts. As readers become a part of the reconstruction process, the educational system can be visualized as a series of cautionary tales about possibilities, about ways to live and build community in this modern/postmodern world. The author focuses on the nature of discourse and the importance of engaging in dialogue about what it means to be other-conscious, what it means to address questions about who we are and how we came to be who we are.
This path is continuously “under construction;” it is always in the process of becoming what is appearing on the horizon. As teachers learn to commit themselves to the gaps revealed by the narratives of their students, classrooms become discourse communities and contact zones, co-constructing contextual discourses which acknowledge ritual and gesture manifested in various forms of text.

Decolonizing Democratic Education

Trans-disciplinary Dialogues

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Edited by Ali A. Abdi and George Richardson

The essays in this edited collection open up a hopeful dialogue about the existing state of democratic education and the ways in which it could be re-imagined as an inclusive, democratized space of possibility and engagement. Proceeding from a critique that questions the dominance of Western liberal understandings of democratic education as a series of rational, culturally neutral acts undertaken by individuals who conceive of democracy and ‘the common good’ in universalist and fundamentally exclusionary terms, the contributors give voice to those whose ideas, histories, cultures and current understanding of the world is not highlighted in the dominant relationships of schooling.
From a variety of theoretical and pragmatic approaches, the chapters in this collection engage the dialectics of history, power, colonization and decolonization, identity, memory, citizenship, Aboriginal rights, development and globalization, all in the context of providing a critique of educational systems, relations, structures and curricula that seem badly in need of reform. While the contributors who have diverse scholarly interests are not in a direct dialogue with one another, their different foci should, nevertheless, inter-topically inform each other. The book should interest students and researchers in the general foundations of education, democracy and education, citizenship education, comparative and international education, postcolonial studies in education, and cultural studies in education.

The Destructive Path of Neoliberalism

An International Examination of Education

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Edited by Brad Porfilio and Curry Malott

The Destructive Path of Neoliberalism: An International Examination, a compilation of twelve essays by leading scholars and educators, sheds light on the social, political, economic, and historical forces behind the rise of neoliberalism, the dominant ideological doctrine impacting developments in schools and other social contexts across the globe for over thirty years. Several authors provide rich empirical data from schools across the globe to capture how neoliberal imperatives, discourses, and practices are impacting teachers, students, and communities at today’s historical juncture. Finally, several contributors have developed pedagogical initiatives, suggest policy considerations, and convey theoretical insights designed to assist us in the struggle against the corporatization of schooling and social life.

Disrupting Privilige, Identity, and Meaning

A Reflective Dance of Environmental Education

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Alison L. Neilson

This narrative about the research journey explores the motivation to study practices of environmental education and the privilege that supports the authors ability to do so. It is about the process of dislodging individual privilege in environmental education research and being part of a community of practice. It is written to invite participation in reciprocal learning/teaching about and knowledge construction of environmental education as collaborative reflexive practice.