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Social justice educators’ road through a Transformational Educational pedagogy: What are the lessons learned?

Gray, Ronald (2017) Social justice educators’ road through a Transformational Educational pedagogy: What are the lessons learned? Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Preparing teachers to work effectively within the classroom is the goal of many teacher education programs. Considering the diversity that is currently forming in American classrooms, many teacher education programs are engaging teachers around issues of justice and citizenship as a form of participatory democracy (Westheimer, 2003). These classroom and program settings are focusing students and faculty on learning to embrace civic action and perhaps develop a social justice disposition. Given the contentious climate around such dispositions, I believe it is important to come to understand what brings these teacher educators to such a disposition. This study explores how teacher educators reflect on developing courses and/or programs that move concerns for justice from the periphery to the center of curriculum and pedagogy by adopting a social justice framework. I investigated the teacher educators’ reflection of this transitional process and how they come to be social justice educators. I discuss my findings related to how these educators have come to accept the complexity of the meaning of the term social justice education. I also discuss how these educators foreground social justice education in their work with students and the reconstruction of their own identity, as they are exposed to the language, literature, and philosophy of social justice education. Through this study, I come to understand that their transformation is more than simply implementing a pedagogy, it is about creating action and integrating social justice practices into their everyday lives. Their identity reconstruction requires two things 1) an experience(s) that shifted their perspective, which I call anchoring experiences, and 2) a meaning making process. Using a postcritical stance, a method of ethnographic interviewing, and grounded theory techniques, I analyze their perspective-shifting and collective meaning making activities. In addition, I discuss some of the barriers that they have encountered when moving through this transition to becoming a social justice educator. My analysis provides a glimpse into the challenges such a pedagogy can encounter and the transitional reflective work that confronted these educators. Lastly, I discuss two major elements: power and community engagement, identified as important to being a social justice educator.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gray, Ronaldrag96@pitt.edurag960000-0002-6441-8719
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.edumgunzen
Committee MemberGarman, Noreenngarman@pitt.edungarman
Committee MemberGivens-Generett,
Ferketish, B. Jeanferkjean@pitt.eduferkjean
Ferguson Carr, Jeanjcarr@pitt.edujcarr
Date: 27 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 May 2017
Approval Date: 27 September 2017
Submission Date: 18 July 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 205
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social justice education, Teacher Educators, Figured World,Education transformation, Educator's Identity, Multicultural education
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 16:37
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2017 16:37


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