I (Paul C. Gorski) conducted the biannual Social Justice and Multicultural Teacher Educators Resource Survey in November and December, 2009. Participants (N=219) were asked to identify scholars, resources, and organizations which have been particularly influential to their work in teacher education. They included faculty of multicultural or social justice education courses, multicultural education specialists in schools and districts, those working for education non-profits focused on social justice teacher education, and others involved in multicultural or social justice teacher education.
A Few Notes About Purpose
Most of my recent scholarship has focused upon theory and practice in multicultural teacher education (MTE). Although there is abundant scholarship, empirical and otherwise, on the impact of MTE on students in MTE classes, very little research has been done to uncover what, generally speaking, students are learning or not learning in these classes. In addition, much of the MTE research focuses on the dispositions, competencies, and conceptions of students in teacher education programs. Almost none of it focuses on the dispositions, competencies, and conceptions of those doing the multicultural and social justice teacher educating.
A few years ago I began a line of inquiry that I hoped would begin to uncover patterns in MTE practice as well as these dispositions, competencies, and conceptions among multicultural and social justice teacher educators. I began with a study in which I analyzed syllabi from nearly 50 MTE courses taught across the U.S. What emerged from this study was a new typology of approaches to MTE. This study largely confirmed existing assumptions that much of what was happening in MTE practice reflected "human relations" and "appreciating diversity" approaches to multicultural and social justice education, and in very few instances did these courses reflect more critical or transformative visions for education.
This study led me to conduct a survey of 80 multicultural and social justice teacher educators, which was meant to uncover with more detail their real and perceived competencies and dispositions. (The initial results of this study are currently under review for publication.) Again, generally speaking, I found that participants were most likely to engage "liberal" rather than "critical" frameworks. (See the typology of approaches to MTE for more information on how I'm framing "liberal" and "critical.")
These two studies led me to wonder further about what actual resources people were using in their MTE work. So I created a survey to uncover what books, web sites, films, and other materials people were likely to use or recommend to colleagues. This is an important point: These lists are NOT meant to be accolades or honors to the individuals appearing on them. Instead, the purpose of collecting these data and sharing these results is to inform the discussion about what types of resources and theoretical frameworks are driving the larger multicultural and social justice discourse in teacher education. So, for example, the list of "most influential" scholars should not be read necessarily as people who have made the biggest contributions to multicultural or social justice teacher education. Rather, it should be read as a list of people identified by a sample of individuals currently providing MTE as influential to their MTE practice.
Similarly, the books lists should not be read as the best or most important books, but instead as the books most highly recommended by this sample of people providing MTE.
To say it another way: These lists should not be seen as lists of recommendations. Neither should they be seen as "best-of" lists. They should be seen, instead, as indications, for better or worse, of what sorts of materials and frameworks are being engaged commonly in MTE. They are meant to engender critical dialogue, to raise critical questions, and to shift some of the MTE scholarship to understanding influences on MTE practice rather than focusing solely on influences of MTE on teacher education students.
In the spirit of critical thought and critical practice, the question I ask when reading these lists is Why? Why? Why? For better or worse, Why?
A Few Notes About Methodology
The 2010 Social Justice and Multicultural Teacher Educator Resource Survey (view a copy here) was comprised primarily of items meant to ascertain the resources most commonly used and recommended by people who identify as multicultural or social justice teacher educators. All such items were "short answer"--participants were asked to name scholars, books, films, and other resources that have been influential to them or that they would recommend to colleagues.
Participants for this study were identified through an electronic form of "snowball sampling." An invitation to participate and a link to the survey were disseminated via e-mail discussion forums commonly used by multicultural and social justice teacher educators, including those hosted by EdChange, NAME, the EdLiberation Network, the Critical Educators for Social Justice AERA SIG, and Rethinking Schools. A total of 219 people completed at least part of the survey.
For more information on the survey email Paul C. Gorski.
View the results of the survey.