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A Reader of Narrative and Critical Lenses on Intercultural Teaching and Learning

reviewed by Julia Yoo - July 31, 2017

coverTitle: A Reader of Narrative and Critical Lenses on Intercultural Teaching and Learning
Author(s): Candace Schlein
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681236672, Pages: 246, Year: 2016
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This book is timely with its main subject of intercultural teaching and learning, and as a collection of work from teachers, researchers, and teacher educators, is refreshing in its approach. Accordingly, this book shares thoughtful intellectual discussions through narrative exploration on the topic of intercultural teaching and learning.

There are twelve chapters, starting with an Introduction that provides an overview of the book and highlights the importance of the topic by claiming schools as “sites of cultural negotiation” where teachers and students get together by bringing their own cultural backgrounds. The key message is that a good understanding of intercultural communication is imperative in diverse classrooms. Each chapter includes the authors’ own reflections around topics as well as critical questions for readers to consider. Some chapters are comprised of research studies.

The three chapters in the beginning of the book are dedicated to the topic of Internationalization of Teacher Preparation. This part of the book would be of interest to many educators in teacher education programs due to the growing emphasis on developing global competence through study abroad programs. In particular, preparing pre-service teachers who are culturally responsive has been of interest to many teacher educators. Reflective thoughts and concrete examples from the Honduras Study Abroad program and the London Study Abroad program underline the importance of developing oppositional consciousness rather than developing relatively simplistic multicultural understandings, such as the dichotomous approach of self against others. Aligned with their aim to foster global competence, the authors provide opportunities for students to critically reflect on equal opportunity and assumptions of equitable social relations during the study abroad programs. With narratives, the authors report how students value their learning experiences through such programs. While the teacher preparation is well described, more generalizable and systematic approaches more readily adaptable for other teachers could significantly increase participation in cultivating global mindset in their own programs.

Two chapters under the topic of “Advancing the Internationalization of Teacher Education and Social Justice” focus on developing globally competent students through firsthand experiences in other countries. These experiences become vital to not only broaden one’s intercultural understanding, but also to engage in creating a mutually beneficial environment. Furthermore, teacher educators should strive to create such learning opportunities for students. The need for teacher educators to participate in various educational associations by engaging in institutional entrepreneurship is also described. Then, the second half of the section is devoted to challenges of global opportunities in teacher preparation programs. The authors argue that the benefits of global educational opportunities are overlooked due to educational policy and measurement of teacher effectiveness. Indeed, in the era of accountability and standardization, student learning and teacher performance have become focused on quantifiable and measurable outcomes. Even though the authors’ claims are current and valid, there still remain questions regarding how the benefit of global educational opportunities can be documented and served as evidence of teacher effectiveness. Additionally, due to the nature and scope of global learning, the efforts cannot rely solely on individual educators. Therefore, involving or getting organizational support remains as a problem to solve.

Under the topic of “Educators’ and Teacher Educators’ Intercultural Experiences,” the authors compile their own experiences of intercultural teaching through the lens of immigrant teachers and experiences of teaching overseas. Also, the role of transnational self-identity and a narrative inquiry approach in an educational setting are discussed. The inclusion of educators of various cultural backgrounds is noteworthy, because, conventionally, much attention has been given to students when discussing issues of diversity. An array of reflections from immigrant teachers and authors themselves signifies the dire need of enhancing the awareness of diversity and global mindset.

The final two chapters showcase technology as a means to promote international and intercultural teacher preparation through reflection and experimentations. Both teachers and teacher educators can benefit from the examples of how technology can be used to foster global competence and intercultural competence, which the authors identified as critical components in a fast-changing learning environment. Without a doubt, the presence of technology and the Internet drives our societies to become ever more diverse and multiplistic. Interestingly, it can serve as a critical means to promote and cultivate an intercultural mindset. The authors describe such examples through digital storytelling and online discussions, and these chapters might stimulate other educators and researchers to further investigate effective instructional strategies that can help students to become culturally sensitive and responsive.

This book seeks out a varied audience in the field of education, especially those who are interested in promoting intercultural teaching and learning by introducing narrative explorations. The authors must be complimented for their efforts compiling relevant experiences, reflections, and real-life examples. Through the first-hand narrative explorations, readers can become inspired to join the effort of internationalizing U.S. teacher education in order to educate globally competent students, which is what the authors assert as their contribution. Yet, some of the introduced approaches require systematic or institutional support in order to be successfully implemented. This book can appeal to educators, especially teacher educators, of all levels.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 31, 2017
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22113, Date Accessed: 12/6/2021 8:59:02 AM

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About the Author
  • Julia Yoo
    Lamar University
    E-mail Author
    JULIA H. YOO, Ph.D., is an associate professor and teacher leadership graduate program coordinator in the department of teacher education at Lamar University. Dr. Yoo received her doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She also earned her M.A. degree in program evaluation at the same institution. She is a former elementary school teacher. Her research interests lie in the areas of teaching effectiveness and learners’ study strategies.
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