Strengthening the Case
STRENGTHENING THE CASE FOR COMMUNITY-BASED LEARNING IN TEACHER EDUCATION
Jewell E. Cooper
University of North Carolina–Greensboro
This article describes ways that preservice teachers responded to community-based activities located in the home communities of their learners. Analysis of work samples, interviews, and observations indicated that revelations about the preservice teachers themselves were confronted,
Stereotypical beliefs about their learners’ communities were challenged, and new discoveries about community’s strengths were acknowledged. Evidence suggests that community cultural-immersion activities incorporated in teacherpreparation programs can not only help preservice teachers correct misperceptions about, but also build relationships with their learners that can potentially impact student achievement.
Three major reasons support the need for such an understanding.
First, both in-service and preservice teachers hold stereotypic views of certain ethnic groups based on media representations, interpretations of history, and previously held beliefs passed down by family members and significant others (Gollnick &
Chinn, 2001; McIntyre, 1997).
Second, many in-service and preservice teachers may not consider themselves to be cultural beings, and do not often understand discrimination (Gay, 2001; King, 1991; Tatum, 1997; Wright, 2004). Therefore, they may not comprehend discriminatory practices as perceived by culturally diverse persons, chiefly because they have not explored their own ethnic identities (McIntyre, 1997).
Third, preservice teachers may engage in avoidance and choose to teach in less-challenging settings.
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