Teacher education for the 21st century: the social justice imperative

Date

2017-12-04

Authors

Fleming, Allyson

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Abstract

The first two decades of the 20th century have brought us to a critical crossroad that few could have predicted when the calendar ticked over from 1999 to 2000. The strife of world wars, of intolerance, of discrimination, of prejudice and oppression that were so evident in the 20th century should have provided the impetus for peace and acceptance in the 21st. Yet, world events early in this century have demonstrated that we have not learned from the lessons of history and thus, unless we intervene, we are doomed to repeat them. Teachers and schools play significant roles in shaping future citizens – in helping learners develop character and integrity, to value others and the earth, and to work collaboratively to address problems new and old. Teacher educators play a critical role in developing the pedagogical understanding of pre-service teachers as they prepare to take up these roles in Canadian classrooms. Teacher educators working from and for a social justice mandate recognize that there are many factors that impact their ability to guide pre-service teachers to a greater understanding and valuing of equity and diversity in their classrooms, schools, and communities. This study’s exploration of factors that constrain or enable this work has exposed the difficulty and intransigence of perceiving the work and ultimately, the world through polarized binaries of either/or – constrain or enable. This has resulted in a greater respect for the complexity in envisioning and enacting pedagogy and practice that strives to inculcate pre-service teachers with a commitment to creating classrooms focused on equity, diversity and social justice.

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Keywords

social justice, teacher education, equity, diversity, inclusion, theory and practice gap, tragic gap, reflexivity, anti-oppressive education, binaries

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