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Examining the Role of Critical Inquiry for Transformative Practices: Two Joint Case Studies of Multicultural Teacher Education

by Louise Jennings & Cynthia Potter Smith - 2002

Multicultural teacher education is often conceptualized as a series of courses or in-service programs. However, research suggests that courses may influence teachersí attitudes but not their practices. By joining two related case studies, we examine how an emphasis on critical inquiry in a multicultural education course influenced one teacherís understandings and practices well beyond the class itself. The first case describes the pedagogy of critical inquiry used in the course and the shift in 14 European American studentsí understandings away from traditional ďtouristĒ approaches toward more comprehensive views of multicultural education. These understandings fell short of transformative multicultural approaches that emphasize education for a more democratic, just society. The second case explores one studentís evolution in developing transformative multicultural beliefs and practices during the 2 years following the course. We examine how particular processes of critical inquiry supported the teacherís evolving beliefs and practices through dialogue, reflection, and action. We summarize the tools and structures that supported this teacher in creating transformative multicultural practices across classrooms in her school district. These joint case studies suggest that multicultural teacher education needs to include but extend beyond particular courses to more expanded venues that provide opportunities for collaboration and critical reflection in action over time.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 3, 2002, p. 456-481
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10845, Date Accessed: 7/24/2021 1:41:02 PM

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About the Author
  • Louise Jennings
    University of South Carolina
    E-mail Author
    LOUISE B. JENNINGS is an assistant professor at the College of Education, University of South Carolina. As a classroom and school ethnographer, she examines the intersections between inquiry, literacy, diversity, and critical democracy that are created through the discourse of learners and teachers. Her recent publications focus on the transformative potential of spoken and written dialogue in classrooms and inquiry as a basis for professional development and continuous school renewal.
  • Cynthia Potter Smith
    Rock Hill District Three Schools
    CYNTHIA POTTER SMITH is a social studies resource teacher for Rock Hill (South Carolina) District Three schools. As a doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina, she is investigating how inquiry-based instruction and culturally relevant pedagogies can work together in elementary classrooms. Her work was recently published in Social Studies and the Young Learner.
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