Bringing memory forward : teachers' engagements with constructions of "difference" in teacher literature circles

dc.contributor.authorWilson, Teresa Jean.en_US
dc.contributor.supervisorPreece, Alisonen_US of Curriculum and Instructionen_US
dc.description.abstractBringing Memory Forward: Teachers' Engagements with Constructions of "Difference" in Teacher Literature Circles" explores ways in which teachers can recognize and address their constructions of "difference" individually and collectively. The study invited practicing teachers to discuss multicultural children's and young adult literature in monthly book clubs, write a literacy autobiography and engage in monthly interviews. Four literature circles were formed from the eighteen elementary and secondary teachers who elected to join; one circle was composed entirely of Aboriginal teachers. In all, twenty-one circles and seventy-two interviews occurred between January and June 2003. Departing from related studies, the dissertation combined and gave equal weight to the literature circle, literacy autobiography and the interviews instead of focusing solely on the literature discussion. This equal weighting was necessary because the primary purpose of the research was to find ways to involve teachers in reflecting on their constructions of "difference" such that the teachers would engage in that reflection for themselves. All three elements of the study worked together to "bring memory forward." In the literature circle, teachers discussed children's and young literature. The selections for the literature circle arose out of the teachers' writing and discussion of their literacy autobiographies such that literature familiar to teachers was juxtaposed with literature that was less familiar. In the interviews, teachers reflected on the relationship between the literature discussion and their literacy autobiographies, with the researcher "reflecting back" to teachers' their own words, prompting to elicit thinking and probing to encourage reflection on connections between literary response and lived experience. The title of the dissertation, "Bringing Memory Forward," draws attention to the role of teachers' memories and histories in multicultural literacy teacher education. The study begins from the hypothesis that memory, imagination and action are connected. Memory is explored through teachers' literacy history. Imagination is investigated through teachers' constructions of "difference" embedded in literary response. Action is what can follow for teachers from an awareness and recognition of the significance of memory and imagination to individual and cultural formation. Memory, imagination and action are admittedly broad concepts. In the study, they are made concrete through two related conceptualizations of the teacher: the teacher as learner and the teacher as "storied intellectual." As learners, teachers can become aware of their own "landscapes of learning" (Greene, 1978a) by asking questions such as: Where do my assumptions come from? Where can I go and who can I listen to in order to find out about perspectives other than my own? While teachers learn against the background of their own "landscapes," that landscape includes the teacher's broader role in society, which is to "transmit, critique and interpret" cultural knowledge (Mellouki & Gauthier, 2001, p. 1). The cultural knowledge most closely concerned with literacy is knowing which stories are important to tell. As the mediators of cultural knowledge, inservice teachers need to be in the forefront of societal changes. This conclusion challenges the current focus on preservice education. Moreover, initiatives at the school level are more likely to come from practicing teachers. However, if teachers feel as if they are being told what needs to be done or how to interact with one another or with texts, they will be less than forthcoming in their commitment. This study represents a departure from other studies and approaches in the area of multicultural literacy education by specifying which learning strategies and approaches teachers drew on in identifying their constructions of "difference," which settings supported their learning and why, and the role of the researcher in furthering teachers' learning processes. The study has implications for professional teacher development as well as preservice teacher education. It also contributes to scholarly literature in education on the role of memory in learning.en_US
dc.subject.lcshMulticultural education -- Canadaen_US
dc.titleBringing memory forward : teachers' engagements with constructions of "difference" in teacher literature circlesen_US


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