NWSA Journal 15.1 (2003) 190-193
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Imagining Teachers: Rethinking Gender Dynamics in Teacher Education by Gustavo E. Fischman. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2000, 224 pp., $70.00 hardcover, $26.95 paper.
Understanding Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality: A Conceptual Framework by Lynn Weber. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001, 240 pp., $30.00 paper.
As we learn more of the interdependence of the raced, classed, gendered, and sexualized experiences that comprise one's existence, it becomes clear that one cannot speak of a single concept without recognizing its connections to others. The texts under review here center on this interconnected nature of race, class, gender, and sexuality, especially as they emerge in education. Gustavo Fischman focuses on gender, class, and sexuality within teacher education; Lynn Weber focuses on all of race, class, gender, and sexuality. While quite different in their intent, both works provide frameworks for these interconnections.
In Imagining Teachers, Fischman, although writing about gender and power, draws discussions of class and sexuality into his framework. He begins by developing a "hybrid framework" for understanding education's gender dynamics. Fischman develops his framework throughout the text with his discussions of methodology, Argentinean educational system history, tensions and contrasts within teacher education students' perceptions, and deconstruction of concepts and structures. A strength of his work is his extensive literature base, but that literature base also makes the opening sections accessible primarily to an academic audience and a difficult read for the less informed.
Following chapter one, the more readable text is both interesting and informative. Fischman's history of elementary teacher education in Argentina serves multiple purposes: it provides context, contributes to the framework, and teaches the reader about the influences of culture in [End Page 190] Teacher Education Programs (TEP). Thus, he informs the reader of the role of sociological issues and political events in institutional and personal development and helps to keep the reader connected to interrelationships between class and gender.
Fischman introduces a tango metaphor as a model of the complexity, open-ended processing, and resistance and tension-filled qualities of developing teacher education students. He writes of the contexts, contrasts, and tensions in Argentinean TEPs in terms of enrollment, demographics, and reasons for selecting teaching as a career. He moves naturally into the complexity of the tango involving class, gender, and sexuality.
Fischman directly addresses these three complex relationships at selected moments in the text. He writes of issues like "the 'cursed-blessed' increase in the number of men in TEPs and the implicit threat of homosexuality and competition for leadership positions" and "the arrival of 'poor' male and female students" as also "cursed-blessed." The "poor" keep the TEPs alive with enrollment, but jeopardize the institutions by being stereotyped as lacking "knowledge, skills, and to a certain extent, moral values" (162).
In Understanding Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality, Lynn Weber presents a framework for an analysis fully integrating race, class, gender, and sexuality. She first focuses on the foundation, defining each idea as complex systems; describing processes that obscure these concepts and overall components of the structure of oppression; and delineating indicators of oppression through the use of an historical timeline.
Like Fischman, Weber draws from a broad base of research to support her thesis, but also models how to read beyond this research in different ways. For example, Weber explains the limitations of a timeline using the example of the Voting Rights Act of 1964. The timeline, she reminds us, tells of an event but in no way relays the history of the struggle prior to that event. It does not help us know the processes and developments that were in themselves raced, classed, gendered, and sexualized contributions.
Weber explains the five themes of her framework, namely that race, class, gender, and sexuality are historically and geographically/globally contextual, socially constructed, involve power relationships, operate at the macro-social level, and at the micro-psychological level. Weber conducts a race, class, gender, and sexuality analysis of education where she revisits the themes and discusses...