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Studying Diversity in Teacher Education

reviewed by Charlotte E. Jacobs - June 29, 2012

coverTitle: Studying Diversity in Teacher Education
Author(s): Arnetha F. Ball & Cynthia A. Tyson (eds.)
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 1442204419, Pages: 448, Year: 2011
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Studying Diversity in Teacher Education (2011), edited by Arnetha F. Ball and Cynthia A. Tyson, is a comprehensive volume that presents the past, current, and future statuses of diversity research, teacher education research, and the combination of the two: diversity in teacher education. Ball and Tyson are researchers and professors of education at Stanford University and The Ohio State University, respectively, who are committed to researching issues of social justice in relation to preparing educators to work within the increasingly diverse context of our nation. The goals of the book are threefold: (1) to examine historical and ongoing issues in teacher education and share how those issues are being addressed by current research, (2) to present research on diverse populations with the intention of connecting that research to the field of teacher education, and (3) to analyze the ways in which teacher education is influenced by sociopolitical and sociocultural contexts and how those factors create a frame for present and future research agendas in teacher education.

The contributors to the volume are researchers who represent various areas and both national and international perspectives within the fields of diversity research, critical theory, and teacher education. Their contributions are organized within three areas of the book. The first section explores past research on diversity in teacher education and analyzes the persistent issues within the field that must be addressed. The second section focuses on current research and the different ways in which researchers are working to reconceptualize diversity in teacher education. The last section of the book presents suggestions for future research that unites research on diversity with research on teacher education, with the goal of better preparing educators to work with students of various backgrounds, abilities, and experiences.

The overall strength of this volume is that it emphasizes the idea that teacher education and education research need to come together in order to create effective change to address the needs of all students within our schools. The book also promotes the belief that teacher knowledge and practitioner research in the field hold as much value as the research conducted by university-affiliated researchers. Another strength of the book is that it presents and critically examines the different actors that interact within the field of diversity in teacher education. The topics explored in this volume range from how teacher education programs address lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues, to the student experience in the classroom and how that experience informs what issues still need to be addressed within teacher education programs, to the political nature of teacher education programs and how policy at the federal and state levels influences what is taught in schools of education.

Taking a critical perspective, quite a few chapters in the book address the ways in which the traditional curriculum in teacher education programs still attends to the White student demographic and upholds the status quo of White privilege and superiority (Chapman; Hollins; Sleeter & Milner IV). The key argument of these critiques is that teacher education programs must make a commitment to creating an environment in which preservice teachers develop a critical consciousness that examines their personal experiences and beliefs in relation to race and class as well as the ways in which race, class, and other social identifiers function in society.

Several chapters are dedicated to examining the needs of specific marginalized groups (e.g., LGBTQ students, African American students, Native American students) within the educational context. Although these pieces offer thoughtful suggestions for how educators can work more effectively with students from marginalized groups, Scott and Ford’s recommendations for working with African American students illustrate the fine line that researchers must walk so that recommendations for a particular group do not become the definitive answer of what characterizes a certain demographic group or what they need. Although Scott and Ford’s argument that preservice teachers should engage in culturally relevant curriculum and instruction when working with students is valid, the nine factors that the authors use to characterize the behaviors, interests, and attitudes of African American students run the risk of essentializing a diverse and multifaceted cultural group. Scott and Ford’s work serves as reminder of the challenges that are part of researching issues of diversity.

In reflecting on the future of diversity in teacher education, Duncan-Andrade’s chapter titled “The Principal Facts: New Directions for Teacher Education” argues that teacher education must take an interdisciplinary approach by engaging in research within varying fields such as public health, community psychology, and medical sociology to better address the issues associated with diversity education. According to Duncan-Andrade, the aim in taking this approach toward teacher education is to “develop educators better equipped to respond to the “socially toxic environments” (Garbarino, 1995) that emerge from racism, poverty, and other forms of oppression” (Duncan-Andrade, p. 310). Duncan-Andrade’s chapter works to support the overall social justice stance of the larger book.

Studying Diversity in Teacher Education presents an honest look at teacher education and its current connection to diversity and, more important, challenges educators and policy makers alike to think about what we should strive for in the future. Ball and Tyson challenge researchers, teachers, and teacher educators to go beyond their prescribed roles in the university and in the classroom to become “scholar-activists”—“scholars who are openly interested in the processes of becoming change agents and engaged in research that is social-justice oriented” (p. 407). This compilation of research studies and literature reviews serves as a way to move forward conversations that are vital to the social, emotional, and psychological development of preservice teachers and their work with youth in our society.


Garbarino, J. (1995). Raising children in a socially toxic environment. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 29, 2012
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16807, Date Accessed: 12/6/2021 7:42:41 PM

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About the Author
  • Charlotte Jacobs
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    CHARLOTTE JACOBS is a second-year doctoral student in the Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She is also a graduate research assistant for the Center for the Study of Boys' and Girls' Lives (http://www.csbgl.org) at the University of Pennsylvania.
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