10 SES 04 B, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
In this complex and dynamic era of risk, counter-narratives that go some way to addressing pathologies that locate diverse individuals, families and communities as an educational problem are crucial. This paper presents the voices of a group of diverse Australian primary and secondary pre-service teacher education students. In this study, the linguistic funds of knowledge (Moll et al. 1992) of this group are explored. This study considers how institutional practices and students’ own attitudes and beliefs about their ‘linguistic funds of knowledge’ intersect.
In Australia, 49% of the population were either born overseas or have at least one overseas-born parent, Australians identify with over 300 different ancestries and 21% of people speak a language besides English at home (Australian Bureau of Statistic, 2016). Australia’s diversity is reflected across educational sectors, including pre-service teacher education programs. Teacher education offers a space in which to begin to both challenge current controls and restrictions and to disrupt demonizing and deficit discourses about diversity and non dominant communities.
In this diverse educational environment multilingual pre-service teachers’ knowledge and achievements are most often ignored in mainstream pre-service teacher education programs (Coleman, 2016). The pre-service teacher educators in this study are being prepared to work in super-diverse (Vertovec, 2007) Australian classrooms. The study aimed to broaden understandings and engage the perspectives of these primary and secondary pre-service teachers. Participants share their linguistic trajectories and consider how their linguistic strengths, knowledge and experience might translate into teaching with culturally and linguistically diverse young people. Attention is given to how institutional practices and students’ own attitudes and beliefs about their ‘linguistic funds of knowledge’ intersect. In this era of uncertainty and risk appreciation and promotion of diversity and diversification is paramount.
Although unevenly distributed, Australian schools include Aboriginal students, young people from migrant and refugee and backgrounds, young people who speak many different languages and dialects of English. Australian classrooms are rich and complex spaces yet despite this diverse cultural and linguistic landscape, monocultural, monolingual, perspectives frame conceptualizations of language and literacy in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in the Australian education system (Schalley, Guillemin & Eisenchlas, 2015; Coleman, 2016).
Demonizing diversity and marginalizing non dominant groups is a key tenant of current era discourses. These discourses are not only having a significant influence on political and social landscapes, but also on educational policy and practice in the global north and south. New policies and practices effect the ways teachers work in increasingly diverse school environments and they are hindering rather than supporting teachers’ capacities to respond to difference (Moloney & Giles, 2015; Luke, 2013). In the Australian context, national education data continues to demonstrate entrenched inequities, and as in much of the world, equity and social justice discourses have been marshalled to argue for more testing and more restrictions and control over teachers and teacher education (Riddle, 2016).
This study is framed by critical sociocultural theory (Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007) and social justice orientated scholarship that considers how identity, agency and power play out in the production of knowledge and language learning in educational settings. This is particularly pertinent for immigrant and refugee communities where education typically focuses on what is limited or lacking, instead of the resourcesthat are abundant in these communities (French, 2015). Many pre-service teachers have navigated diverse cultural and linguistic spaces, encounters that have formed their conceptions of language and its relationship to identity, culture and social group membership. Their cultural and linguistic knowledge, understandings and expertise are rarely leveraged to advance our understanding of teaching particularly for diverse students (Anderson & Stillman, 2013).
Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten primary and secondary pre-service teachers. Participants were asked to think historically and reflect on how they have used language and literacies to navigate their local and global contexts. Participants were asked to consider how their linguistic strengths, knowledge and experience have contributed to their journey to pre-service teacher education programs and how this was taken up within their University program. Participants also considered how their knowledge and skill would translate into their teaching with culturally and linguistically diverse young people. Participants also created a language map (D’warte, 2014). This task involved participants in using A3 paper and a range of materials to create visual representations of their everyday language practices and experiences. This methodology is informed by qualitative research which focuses on visual images to explore participants’ experiences and meaning making (Frith et al., 2005). Analysis is driven by the 3 following research questions: 1. What are pre-service teachers’ views of their own linguistic ‘Funds of Knowledge’? 2. How might pre-service teachers’ linguistic strengths, knowledge and experience translate into teaching with culturally and linguistically diverse young people? 3. What is the relationship between the university’s institutional practices and pre-service teachers’ views of their own linguistic ‘Funds of Knowledge’? An iterative approach to thematic content analysis (Saldana, 2016) was applied to interviews to develop codes, themes and conceptual understandings detailed in the findings below. Textual and spacial analytical framing was applied to language mapping (van Leeuwen, 2008). This paper offers empirically driven narratives from pre-service teachers that articulate personal beliefs about language and equality in this political and social era of risk and uncertainty. It gives voice to an educational community who are most often marginalised and neglected in this context.
Participants displayed wide ranging linguistic and cultural dexterity, navigating a wide range of diverse cultural and linguistic spaces with increasing flexibility however, they rarely acknowledged their linguistic dexterity and capability and instead expressed feelings of inadequacy in their own abilities. Language ideologies (Gogolin & Duarte, 2017) surrounding what and whose languages were valued were expressed by all participants. Strong connections to language and its relationship to identity, culture and social group membership were expressed but rarely connected to their own studies or future teacher practice. Participants desired to create spaces for tapping into their own and their students’ linguistic resources but reported uncovering these resources within a crowded curriculum would be challenging. Participants discussed pathologising discourses and the broader obstacles that hindered various forms of ‘success’ and achievement for diverse students and expressed a desire to create possibilities for shifting the social organization of learning in order to reconsider what counted as valued knowledge (Gutiérrez, 2008) in schools. Despite institutional claims to support diversity, participants reported that their linguistic and cultural knowledge and understandings were rarely taken up by the institution and ignored within their teacher education program, supporting the view of higher education institutions as bound nation states (Van der Walt (2013, p.19) maintaining a standard that excludes changes in language policies and practices. Participants rich linguistic repertoires were not exceptional, but rather normal and as such should be treated as valuable resources that inform teaching and teacher education. Teacher education programs must recognize the knowledge and understandings of diverse pre-service teachers and facilitate opportunities for them to see their own strengths, and in turn act as agents of change who interrogate their own and others’ positioning. Transformative educational change is facilitated when societal and institutional language ideologies are recast and deficit discourses that serve to marginalize are disrupted.
Allan, L. (2013) Generalizing curriculum policy across boarders: crossing boundaries. In Luke, Allan, Woods, Annette, & Weir, Katie (Eds.) Curriculum, Syllabus Design and Equity: a Primer and Model. Routledge, New York, pp. 144-161. Anderson, L & Stillman J (2013) Student teaching’s contribution to preservice teacher development: A review of research focused on the preparation of teachers for urban and high-needs contexts. Review of Educational Research 83(1): 3–69. Australian Bureau of Statistic (2016) Cultural Diversity: Who We Are Now. Retrieved http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/2024.0Main%20Features22016 Coleman, J. (2016). “There’s too much to explain” On being a bilingual pre-service teacher in a monolingual education institution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education 41(7)132-145. D’warte, J. (2014). Exploring linguistic repertoires: Multiple language use and multimodal activity in five classrooms. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(1), 21-30. Eisenchlas, S., Schalley, A., & Guillemin, D. (2015). Multilingualism and literacy – attitudes and policies. International Journal of Multilingualism, 12(2), 151–161. French, M. (2016). Students’ multilingual resources and policy-in-action: an Australian case study. Language and Education 30(4) 298-316. Frith, H., Riley, S., Archer, L. & Gleeson, K. (2005). Imag(in)ing visual methodologies. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2(3), 187-198. Gogolin, I., & Duarte, J. (2017). Superdiversity, Multilingualism and Awareness. In J. Cenoz, D. Gorter, & S. May (Eds.), Language Awareness and Multilingualism: Encyclopedia of Language and Education (3rd ed., Vol. 10, pp. 375-390). UK: Springer. Gutiérrez, K.D. (2008). Developing a Sociocritical Literacy in the Third Space. Reading Research Quarterly. 43 (2), 148-164. Lewis, W., Enciso, P., & Moje, E. B. (2007). Reframing sociocultural research on literacy. NY: Routledge. Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D. & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classroom. Theory Into Practice, 31 (2), 132–141. Moloney, R. & Giles, A. (2015). Plurilingual pre-service teachers in a multicultural society: Insightful, invaluable, invisible. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 38(3), 123-138 Riddle, S. (2016). These are testing times: Will teacher tests make a difference in the classroom? [online]. Independent Education, 46(1) 12-13 ISSN: 1320-9825 Saldana, J. (2016). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. New York: Sage Publishing Schalley, A.C., Guillemin, D., & Eisenchlas, S.A. (2015). Multilingualism and assimilationism in Australia's literacy-related educational policies. International Journal of Multilingualism, 12(2), 162-177 van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press Van der Walt, C. (2013) Multilingual Higher Education: beyond English medium orientations. Bristol: Multilingual Matters
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