Anti-Oppression in Teacher Education Programs

Question: Your own teacher education program has included what Kumashiro argues is rare in teacher education programs, which is the examination of self through anti-oppressive education courses. Discuss how your anti-oppressive lenses have been critical to your formation as a teacher thus far; provide examples of how you feel your anti-oppressive learning have better prepared you to meet the needs of your future learners.

Had it not been for my educational experiences prior to entering this college, I think I would have had a much more difficult time understanding the importance of anti-oppressive teaching practices. After all, the amount of time we have spent covering the topic of oppression and the difficulty in removing it from schools can seem like a very overwhelming task. At times, it feels like the expectations that have been laid in front of us as future teachers seems nearly impossible, in large part because we have not yet even conquered the basics of teaching and may feel unprepared to take on the challenge of anti-oppression.

 

That being said, I believe we have, ultimately, benefited from the emphasis on anti-oppression in our program. To ignore the topic of diversity and oppression while we are just learning to teach would be to risk our never considering these issues even when we are comfortable in our roles as teachers. It needs to be addressed early on in teacher education for the same reasons it is important to cover these topics with high school students: to delay our learning in these areas would mean allowing oppression to continue unnoticed.

 

In my opinion, one of the most helpful tips for anti-oppressive teaching came from our last day in this class. Amanda quotes Zeus Leondardo by saying “trying not to be racist is a different project than being anti-racist.” The reason I find this so helpful is because it is a reminder that we are all human and have been conditioned by a particular social world and, therefore, cannot be expected to be perfect in our desire to be anti-oppresive. Perfectionism is certainly not what is expected of us, especially at the very beginning of our careers. What is most important is acknowledging the injustices which exist in our schools, allowing those topics to be addressed in our classrooms, and, perhaps most importantly, encouraging our students to think critically about the world in which they live.

 

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One thought on “Anti-Oppression in Teacher Education Programs

  1. “The reason I find this so helpful is because it is a reminder that we are all human and have been conditioned by a particular social world and, therefore, cannot be expected to be perfect in our desire to be anti-oppresive” – Yes. There is something about engaging in anti-oppression that makes educators very nervous. The last thing they want to do is, for example, say something racist in trying to teach anti-racism. Yet mistakes are inevitable and are also perfectly okay!!

    When I was in Philadelphia I attended a talk by Sonia Nieto and she told the story of how she recently used the word “sissy” in a publication and found out that she deeply offended some readers. She has been studying critical multiculturalism for 30 years, and she told this story in order to underline the importance of not dwelling of making “mistakes” along the way to becoming anti-oppressive. Personally I do find it very hard sometimes to have classroom discussions because students feel offended and hurt if they feel they have said something “wrong”. Yet in a science or math class, students do not feel hurt if the instructor encourages them to reapply a theory. The more we can have anti-oppressive discussions, the more comfortable we can become. Just a few thoughts…

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