Disappointments: Rethinking Structures and Policies Towards a Public Intellectual

Year: 2015

Author: Lorio, Jeanne Marie, Hamm, Catherine, Blaise, Mindy, Tanable, Clifton

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The limitations of a traditional early childhood teacher education are evident in our experiences with colleagues, mentor teachers, policymakers, and our early childhood pre-service students. We name these moments “disappointments” and wonder how a commitment to social justice has become secondary to an activity approach to teaching. Early childhood pre-service students enter university with the expectation of learning a “bag a tricks” in order to be a teacher rather than seeing a teacher as an agent of change. This major “disappointment” for us is the impetus for our research and we wonder how disruption and rethinking of policy and structures within our program can contribute to creating a more equitable world.

Iorio and Tanabe (2015, Under Review) explore the practice of hope (inspired by the work of Freire, 1992, Blas, 2015) through the frame of “utopian pedagogy” (Cote, Day, & de Peuter, 2007) as a tool to rethink policies and structures within higher education, disrupting current neoliberal-based practices often found at university. “Utopian pedagogy” refers “to an ethos of experimentation that is oriented toward carving out spaces for resistance and reconstruction here and now” (Cote, Day, & de Peuter, 2007, p. 317). Iorio and Tanabe (2015, Under Review) view hope as part of utopian pedagogy as hope is the way to see beyond and visual the possibilities and what could be. Using these ideas, we frame our rethinking of the early childhood teacher education program as a means to engage as and inspire our students as public intellectuals (Giroux, 2007; Said, 1994).

The early childhood faculty at Victoria University utilized the practice of hope (Iorio and Tanabe, 2015, Under Review) framed by “utopian pedagogies” (Cote, Day, & de Peuter, 2007) to rethink the early childhood course. Our methodology of documenting our process used elements of narrative (Clandinin & Connelly, 2004), phenomenology (Van Manen, 1990, 2014), and portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997). Data was collected using document review, group discussions, and interviews. Rethinking included creating new unit structures combining units to foster integration and complexity, revising forms, handbooks, and evaluations to reflect thinking and questioning rather than a narrow and/or right answer, and developing/revising units within the course to interrogate the “disappointments” within practice, moving from activity-driven models to engagement and entanglement with practice, advocacy, and activism.


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