Context and content: the impact of diversity indicators on teaching and teacher education across Australia

Year: 2013

Author: White, Simone, Walker Gibbs, Bernadette, Kline, Jodie, Rowan, Leonie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A criticism of teacher education by many American teacher educators (Cochran-Smith,2004; González, Moll & Amanti, 2005) is that graduates are not well equipped to work in diverse settings in particular to teach students from inner urban, low socio-economic and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. In the Australian context similar criticism has been made of ‘a one size fits all' approach to teacher preparation that does not address the needs of teachers to work for example in rural and remote contexts (Reid et al., 2010 Kline, White & Lock, 2013). To explore the notion of teacher education, context and content further, the SETE team has investigated how well equipped are teacher education graduates to meet the requirements of the diverse settings in which they are employed and of those graduates who do describe being well prepared to teach in diverse contexts what were the characteristics of their teacher education programs that may have enabled their preparation? This paper begins with a broad mapping of the notion of diversity of context and content at both the school and university level.  Diversity of teacher education program characteristics are discussed examining aspects such as program type, teaching and learning sequences, length and campus location. Diverse contexts in terms of graduate destinations in regards to the case studies conducted across Victoria and Queensland are examined.  Diversity included place, both geographic (rural/urban/remote); location and system (for example Victoria, Queensland); school size; nature of graduate employment (contract, part-time, casual relief); sector (public, independent) and school community demographics. Interview data gathered from the case studies (n=170) are then discussed in relation to the preliminary findings of what teacher education characteristics appear to best prepare graduate teachers for the particular contexts they find themselves in. References Cochran-Smith, M. (2004) Walking the Road: Race, Diversity, and Social Justice in Teacher Education, Multicultural Education Series. González, N., & Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Kline, J., White, S., & Lock, G. (2013). The rural practicum: Preparing a quality teacher workforce for rural and regional Australia. Journal of Research in Rural Education,28(3), 1-13. Reid, J., Green, B., Cooper, M., Hastings, W., Lock, G. and White, S. (2010). ‘Regenerating Rural Social Space? Teacher Education for rural-regional Sustainability' Australian Journal of Education, Vol 54, No. 3, pp. 262-276.