The Strangler Fig: Teacher education, social justice and ethnically marginalised students

Year: 1994

Author: Osborne, Barry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper I argue that schooling is in need of fundamental reformulation and reform. We need to promote social justice for participatory democracy in the light of the ongoing marginalisation of various ethnic groups within Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. This is needed because of the increasing ethnic diversity in these societies.

At the heart of such reformulation there must be concerted efforts to change curricula-content, classroom processes and assessment as well as the broader social practices in which they are located, like streaming, subject selection advice and credentialism. This paper focuses on but one of these themes, namely classroom processes. A knowledge base to inform socially just changes to classroom processes is derived from an ethnology of interpretive ethnographies conducted in more than 70 cross-cultural or multi-ethnic sites. The nine components of this ethnology of culturally relevant pedagogy (Osborne, 1991; Ladson- Billings, 1992) are briefly outlined.

I go on to suggest ways to incorporate this knowledge base into teacher education programs-preservice and inservice-in such a way as to not only empower teachers, but also to foster emancipatory social justice with all their students. In order to achieve this I argue the pertinence of the Strangler Fig metaphor and draw from the ethnology, critical pedagogues like Giroux, Apple and Aronowitz as well as practicum researcher/specialist Zeichner.