Diversity in Higher Ed: Complications in Teacher Education

Chelda SMITH
University of Minnesota, United States


The ever diversifying landscape of public education in the United States and various Western nations is reflective of globalization. However, as student demographics shift, their teachers and school personnel remain largely homogeneous. With the stagnant enrollment of students of color in teacher education programs, the demographic imperative is sustained and is often linked to the widening the achievement gap. As such, there a national effort to recruit more preservice teachers of color. However, much of the research on multicultural teacher education focuses on white preservice teachers and their assumed cultural incompetency. One popular approach to addressing the cultural disparities is developing teachers as culturally relevant pedagogues. Doing so requires teacher candidates to become critically conscious, empowered and academically proficient.

This study proposes to explicate the phenomenon of developing culturally relevant pedagogues of color in a teacher education program that had recruitment successes. Additionally, the study illuminates effective pedagogies employed by teacher educators to facilitate consciousness transformation. The purpose of the study is to conceptualize how cultural history and sociopolitical reality mediate the learning environment of both teacher educators and preservice teachers and prepares them to teach in a globalized world. Broadly, this project responds to the gap in empirical research on the academic and sociocultural experiences of teacher candidates of color and the challenges of culturally relevant pedagogy in higher education.

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