Year: 1991

Author: Jeans, B.A.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Australian government has developed a comprehensive and coherent social justice policy that emphasises the needs of individuals. The social justice policy seeks to apply the principles of access and equity to societal groups that have suffered arbitrary or systematic discrimination in the previous social order. In order to implement social justice policies the government is engaged in a form of social engineering that relies on information and persuasion rather than on State ownership of the means of manufacture and the delivery of services. It expects the teachers it employs to assist with the implementation of these policies. If teacher education courses are to prepare teachers to foster social justice through their teaching it ought to be because teacher educators are convinced that it will bring about a better society and not simply because the government of the day thinks it is a good idea. Social justice requires one to be tolerant of diversity within the limits of a national framework. In addition to social justice perspectives the course takes account of the need for discipline knowledge, a second language and some knowledge of schooling in the Pacific and South East Asian region. These considerations imply that a major redesign of teacher education courses is necessary. The addition of new content is not sufficient. The course itself must incorporate a variety of social justice perspectives. The means used to encourage student learning should also reflect social justice principles. In times of economic recession there is tension between funding social justice programs and encouraging the creation of wealth. A course is proposed using the seven semester guide-line recommended to the Australian Education Council (AEC) by its Working Party on Teacher Education.