Pre-Service Teachers Confronting Issues of Diversity Through a Radical Field Experience

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External/Clinical Experience

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One of the major challenges in preparing pre-service teachers for the 21st-century classroom, as well as for an increasingly competitive job market, is providing the necessary skills and background to effectively educate diverse populations of students (Sleeter, 2001). Multicultural education courses are a staple in teacher preparation programs, where the differences in learners is superficially examined. However, as Goggins II and Dowcett (2011) point out, those basic multicultural education courses do not go into the depth of specific populations required to truly gain an understanding of issues related to power, privilege, and professional practice. Coffey (2010) asserts that the best way to authentically examine these issues is through cross-cultural, community-based field experiences. The study undertaken by the authors and described in this article advances the understanding of how to develop culturally responsive teachers through a critical examination of an immersion field experience in a particularly unique school environment where issues of sexual, racial/ethnic, and socio-economic diversity are addressed through progressive approaches. The authors point out that even more significant is the fact that these pre-service teachers are immersed in an educational context that is radically different from what they have known in their own schooling. This immersion experience compels them to come face-to-face with social injustices that they have read about in isolated readings, but that, in the study, they encounter collectively in a single school setting.


This article was published in Multicultural Education. Vol. 21, Number 2. (2014).