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A Hopeful Curriculum: Community, Praxis, and Courage
Unformatted Document Text:  begin to confidently “wither away,” as Ira Shor (1979) suggests, in order to let our students own what they have created together and, subsequently, share the transformative possibilities with others. C. ContributionWhile the community/praxis/courage model addresses several issues relevant to the 2006 AACTE Conference, we focus most of our attention on Strand I, particularly the question: “What teaching skills are necessary to successfully prepare a cognitively, culturally, and linguistically diverse student population for the future, and how do we teach these skills and strategies to teacher candidates?” By working to create community and connectedness, craft new (more nuanced) lenses, develop a more critical consciousness and discourse, leave “safe harbors,” champion social justice, and “wither away” we model, through our own pedagogical practices (content, instruction/delivery, assessment, etc.) what is possible in the P-12 classroom. D. RelevanceSince the courses we teach at both the undergraduate and graduate level are the only courses in the entire university, much less the teacher education program, that focus on social difference and social justice, we envision—based on successful student evaluations of our work and exemplary work the students have created—advocating for structural changes within the teacher education program to privilege this approach and content in more courses. Then, social difference and social justice can be more thoughtfully woven throughout the teacher candidate’s experience, which will hopefully more explicitly signify the importance of this material (alongside the more nuts-and-bolts methods courses) in their future life as teacher. E. ImplicationsNot only might this work demonstrate the need to weave these issues through more courses in the teacher candidate’s university experience, but it may also signal the need for a shift in how our content is delivered. Through courses like the ones we teach that focus primarily on the students rather than the material, we illustrate how our teacher candidates can put their future students in the center of the teaching/learning experience—which will, in turn, help them account for cognitive, cultural, and linguistic differences. Given that standardization and high-stakes testing (and accreditation at the university level!) has clearly shifted the focus of teaching and learning to the content and away from a more humanizing and relational experience, it is paramount that progressive educators continue a hopeful struggle for ways to counter the more mechanistic approaches and experiences students have in schools today. At the conclusion of this paper, we discuss one outlet for action we have already taken up with our teacher candidates. At the insistence of some former students, we have created a long-term support network for our teachers to remain active in, which connects them to other students in the program, teachers in local public schools, and other activists/teachers/workers in the national and global community. The Progressives Engaged in Struggle Support (PrESS) Network was created in the spring, 2004 in order to continue the conversation begun in our courses at the university, to supply support and resources to teachers as they enter their classrooms, and to serve both local and global children and families oppressed/marginalized/disenfranchised by unjust systems and

Authors: renner, adam. and brown, milton.
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begin to confidently “wither away,” as Ira Shor (1979) suggests, in order to let our
students own what they have created together and, subsequently, share the transformative
possibilities with others.
C. Contribution
While the community/praxis/courage model addresses several issues relevant to the 2006
AACTE Conference, we focus most of our attention on Strand I, particularly the
question: “What teaching skills are necessary to successfully prepare a cognitively,
culturally, and linguistically diverse student population for the future, and how do we
teach these skills and strategies to teacher candidates?” By working to create community
and connectedness, craft new (more nuanced) lenses, develop a more critical
consciousness and discourse, leave “safe harbors,” champion social justice, and “wither
away” we model, through our own pedagogical practices (content, instruction/delivery,
assessment, etc.) what is possible in the P-12 classroom.
D. Relevance
Since the courses we teach at both the undergraduate and graduate level are the only
courses in the entire university, much less the teacher education program, that focus on
social difference and social justice, we envision—based on successful student evaluations
of our work and exemplary work the students have created—advocating for structural
changes within the teacher education program to privilege this approach and content in
more courses. Then, social difference and social justice can be more thoughtfully woven
throughout the teacher candidate’s experience, which will hopefully more explicitly
signify the importance of this material (alongside the more nuts-and-bolts methods
courses) in their future life as teacher.
E. Implications
Not only might this work demonstrate the need to weave these issues through more
courses in the teacher candidate’s university experience, but it may also signal the need
for a shift in how our content is delivered. Through courses like the ones we teach that
focus primarily on the students rather than the material, we illustrate how our teacher
candidates can put their future students in the center of the teaching/learning experience
—which will, in turn, help them account for cognitive, cultural, and linguistic
differences. Given that standardization and high-stakes testing (and accreditation at the
university level!) has clearly shifted the focus of teaching and learning to the content and
away from a more humanizing and relational experience, it is paramount that progressive
educators continue a hopeful struggle for ways to counter the more mechanistic
approaches and experiences students have in schools today. At the conclusion of this
paper, we discuss one outlet for action we have already taken up with our teacher
candidates. At the insistence of some former students, we have created a long-term
support network for our teachers to remain active in, which connects them to other
students in the program, teachers in local public schools, and other
activists/teachers/workers in the national and global community. The Progressives
Engaged in Struggle Support (PrESS) Network was created in the spring, 2004 in order to
continue the conversation begun in our courses at the university, to supply support and
resources to teachers as they enter their classrooms, and to serve both local and global
children and families oppressed/marginalized/disenfranchised by unjust systems and


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