Toward Critically Transformative Possibilities: Considering Tensions and Undoing Inequities in the Spatialization of Teacher Education
by Mariana Souto-Manning & Jessica Martell - 2019
Background: Racism remains a deep-rooted and pervasive feature of U.S. society. Racist ideas, defined by Ibram X. Kendi as “any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way,” are major features of the current landscape of teacher education.
Focus: Rejecting the re-production of racial inequities as an unavoidable outcome of teacher education, in this article, a university-based teacher educator of color and an early childhood teacher/school-based teacher educator of color unveil the complex sociospatial dialectic of teacher education across settings. Positioning mapping as a possible pathway for coauthoring a counternarrative that rejects teacher education’s first spaces characterized by the overvaluation of White ontologies, Eurocentric epistemologies, and ideologies that deem university-based knowledge to be superior to school- and community-based ways of knowing, they identified and mapped inequities across the physical, relational, and pedagogical spatialization of teacher education. They considered the following questions: (a) How do teacher education programs position intersectionally minoritized students of color, their families, and communities? (b) What are the spaces in which power has been—and continues to be—inscribed and reinforced by Whiteness as the norm in teacher education programs and practices? (c) How can teacher educators of color across settings interrupt teacher education’s re-production of inequities in critically and spatially conscious ways?
Research Design: Through a three-year collaborative participatory research project, the authors engaged with critical race spatial analysis to read the landscape of teacher education, naming its sociospatial injustices—writ large and as situated within their immediate contexts and lives—in addressing the first two research questions. Then, they sought to interrupt these mapped realities by re-mediating teacher education, understanding that perhaps it is the tools and artifacts, and/or the learning environments, that must be reorganized in ways to foster deep, meaningful, and transformative learning, thereby addressing the third question.
Practice: Working to transform the inequitable status quo of teacher education, they worked to build a horizontal collaboration marked by intellectual interdependence and shared expertise across physical, relational, and pedagogical geographies, thereby moving to transform teacher education through the re-mediation of its traditional first space and the design of a third space. The kind of horizontal partnership they negotiated was in stark contrast to dominant and prevalent vertically organized teacher education partnerships, which position universities as having more importance, expertise, and legitimacy than schools—in disconnected ways.
Conclusions: This article unveils the ways in which current models of teacher education continue to pathologize intersectionally minoritized populations and re-produce inequities as design features. The collaboration the authors codesigned enabled pedagogical third spaces for transformation to occur and offers an example of what is possible in and through teacher education. In a situated way, it offers insights into how university-based teacher educators and schoolteachers/school-based teacher educators can collaboratively work toward equity and justice in and through teaching and teacher education.
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