Department of Teacher Education

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    Embracing the otherness of others: an approach for teacher educators to assuage social and political tribalism
    (Springer, Cham, 2019-01-15) Varbelow, Sonja
    We live in a corrosively polarized climate where sharply divided beliefs about globalization and populism magnify existing biases. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that those who want to educate the next generation – teacher candidates – have been schooled in systems that focus on obedience, conformity, and docility. This breadcrumbs approach to education bears the danger of reproducing the status quo rather than changing it. This chapter explores the promises, perils, and provocations of curriculum regarding how we think about diversity and delineates a learning experience for pre-service teachers that allows them to identify, approach, and become the Other. The lived experience illuminates the cultural and experiential origins of their beliefs while reconciling the uncomfortable notion that bias is part of the human condition. In times where sharpened divisions intensify social and political tribalism it is essential to understand that it is the way one acts upon one’s biases that determines what kind of world one creates.
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    The curriculum in praxis: how purpose of school is actualized in Vietnam, Mexico, and the United States
    (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) Varbelow, Sonja; Gee, Donna
    What is the purpose of school, and what role does culture play in how that purpose is actualized? How this question is approached reflects how society thinks about what knowledge is of most worth, which ultimately reflects cultural, philosophical, and political ideas about life purpose (Huebner, 1975/1999; Kincheloe, 2008). This study explores how curriculum influences the way people create life purpose in Vietnam, Mexico, and the U.S. The theoretical framework is narrativity; the data analysis framework is narrative inquiry. The findings point to how curriculum reflects cultural and political beliefs about life purpose, and how each country uses its education system as an instrument to further evolving truths. These findings allow educators to think about curriculum and the purpose of school with an epistemological lens that illuminates how educational experiences and the contextual factors in which they occur influence a person’s beliefs about life purpose. For the parameters of this study, we define life purpose as the impetus for individual decision-making processes. We begin this chapter by delineating fundamental features of each country’s education system followed by a review of the pertinent literature. We then outline the methodology for this study before representing the findings. We conclude this chapter with a discussion of what the findings contribute to fundamental questions about the purpose of school and what knowledge is of most worth.