One of the major policy issues in teacher education today is preparing an increasingly homogeneous teaching force to teach in a society that is becoming increasingly diverse. This dissertation examines how four student teachers constructed and reconstructed knowledge about race, class, and culture as they participated in Project START, a fifth year preservice program in elementary education at the University of Pennsylvania. Project START had a clear and explicit stance about the social and political contexts of schooling and how curriculum and instruction contribute to greater equity and social justice. Four case studies were constructed from research with student teachers over a nine-month period as they completed coursework at the university and fieldwork in urban and suburban public schools. Within the social, philosophical, and curricular and organizational structures of the program, students had many opportunities to read, write, and talk about the critical issues of diversity. They were encouraged to examine their own cultural, racial, and social backgrounds and the assumptions they had about those who are not like them. The author, the university supervisor for the students, collected data from interviews, observations at the two school sites, and documents such as journals, assigned papers, and comprehensive portfolios prepared at the end of the program. The resulting dissertation describes and analyzes the four students' "lived reality" as they progressed through the teacher education program. These case studies suggest that more research is needed to explore what students write, read, and talk about concerning issues of race, class, and culture as they complete graduation requirements in a preservice program. How students make sense of these issues is critical in determining how they define their roles as teachers and learners. Further, follow-up studies of graduates should be conducted to examine how the issues of power and privilege impact their lives as they continue their careers in the field of education or in some other field. This dissertation also indicates that teacher education programs cannot be politically neutral or marginalize issues of race, class, and culture; they must keep these issues in front of students, integrated throughout their university coursework and fieldwork.
Thesis (Ed.D. in Education) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2002. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 63-05, Section: A, page: 1790. Supervisor: Katherine Schultz.