4. Teachers of Minorities as Agents of Change: A Global Model
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50 4 Teachers of Minorities as Agents of Change: A Global Model MaryJo Benton Lee and Diane Kayongo-Male Transformative education seeks to ignite a passion for learning connected to the betterment of humanity. Teachers must recognize their roles as mentors and peers to students on the journey toward greater justice in society. So write the editors of this text in the introduction to this volume. In this chapter, we present a model that allows teachers of minorities to reflect deliberately on their role as change agents and on their responsibility to bring about a more equitable world. Besides teachers, the audience for our chapter also includes administrators, policy makers, parents, and teacher educators. As the literature suggests, the best teacher education programs are those that prepare students to be “educational change agents in their respective milieus” (Ashraf, Khaki, Shamatov, Tajik, & Vazir, 2005, p. 275). Dilshad Ashraf, Jan-e-Alam Khaki, Duishon Alievich Shamatov, Mir Afzal Tajik, and Nilofar Vazir (2005), writing about the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development in Pakistan, say this is particularly important when working with “multicultural , multiethnic, and multifaith” (p. 275) teachers who will return home to serve in diverse classrooms. Preservice teachers in the twenty-first century must be trained to enter “changed classrooms” (Dyson, 2010, p. 11), significantly different from those in which they themselves were educated. The “extensive poverty and inequality,” described by Michael Dyson (2010, p. 11) in his work on Australian schools, are now endemic in classrooms worldwide. Both teachers and students must learn how to change their frameworks rather than simply change within their frameworks, Dyson (2010, p. 15) says. This chapter will examine both minority teachers and teachers of minorities acting as change agents in diverse countries, including the United States but also ranging Teachers of Minorities as Change Agents | 51 from Bolivia (Canessa, 2004), Great Britain (Robinson & Heyes, 1996), and Israel (Kass & Miller, 2011) to Mexico (Malekzadeh, 2005), Canada (Lund, 2006), and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (Lam, 2007). The PRC holds particular interest for the chapter ’s authors because they have been studying minority teachers in China’s Yunnan Province, an area of great ethnic diversity, for the past fifteen years. Research for this chapter began with a review of forty-five of the most significant books and articles on the topics of teachers, minorities, and change agents, works drawn largely from the sociology of education. Few attempts have been made to weave the disparate ideas from this literature together in a coherent way. This chapter is a beginning attempt to do so. We will develop a tentative theoretical model for examining teachers of minorities as agents of change, using a global perspective. Theoretical Background It should be noted at the start that much of the social change pedagogy is rooted in the foundational work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (1990). Applying Freirean pedagogy in contexts different from its origins, however, is problematic (Choules, 2007, p. 161). Diverse theoretical perspectives deliberately chosen for inclusion in this chapter are those of American Henry A. Giroux (1997) on teachers as activists, of Canadian Jim Cummins (1993) on teaching and empowerment, and of Italian Antonio Gramsci (1917) on personal accountability. Theoretical Cumulation Early work on what is now called “change agent theory” (Travis, 2008, p. 20) was done by Everett M. Rogers (1971), who wrote about how change is adopted and diffused. Raymond Caldwell (2003), writing in the business management field, later developed a model that outlined four types of change agency: leadership, management, consultancy , and team. Change agency was first applied in school settings in the early 1970s (Jarrett, 1973). In developing our model, we build on these earlier contributions in a modest attempt at what Jonathan H. Turner (1989, p. 9) calls “theoretical cumulation.” This is best described by Sir Isaac Newton’s much-quoted phrase “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We gather evidence and draw conclusions using an idiographic approach. We examine literature dealing with a wide range of situations in which teachers of minorities function as agents of change. We then generate categories that describe how teachers assume change agent roles, how they develop strategies to realize change, and the outcomes of their change agency. As we will discuss later, the “strategies” section of the model is the weakest, but it does suggest fruitful ground for future research. What we are attempting to develop is a “nested” model. This means that each subsequent part assumes...


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