Sustaining the next generation of teacher-researchers to work for social justice
Kamler, Barbara & Comber, Barbara (2009) Sustaining the next generation of teacher-researchers to work for social justice. In Somekh, B. & Noffke , S. (Eds.) Handbook of Educational Action Research. SAGE Publications, London, pp. 177-185.
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This chapter explores a research project involving teachers working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in South Australia, children growing up in poverty, in families struggling with homelessness and ill-health, in the outer southern suburbs. Additionally, there were particular children were struggling with intellectual, emotional and social difficulties which were extreme enough for them not be included in a mainstream class. The research project made two crucial interrelated moves to support teachers to tackle this tough work. First, the project had an explicit social justice agenda. We were not simply researching literacy outcomes, but literacy pedagogies for the students teachers were most worried about. And we wanted to understand how the material conditions of students’ everyday lifeworlds impacted on the working conditions of teachers’ schoolworlds. We sought to open up a discursive space where teachers could talk about poverty, violence, racism and classism in ways that would take them beyond despair and into new imaginings and positive action. Second, the project was designed to start from the urgent questions of early career teachers and to draw on the accumulated practice wisdom of their chosen mentors. Hence we designed not only a teacher-researcher community, but cross-generational networks. Our aim was to build the capacities of both generations to address long-standing educational problems in new ways that drew overtly on their different and complementary resources.
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