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Making Sense of Teaching in Difficult Times
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
The ten chapters in this volume first appeared as a special issue of Teaching in Higher Education (2013). Each author is situated in particular classroom and institutional contexts ranging from South Africa to Australia, from Denmark to China and Canada, from the United Kingdom to the United States. Their expertise is far reaching. Although none of the contributors are in the areas of theology or religious studies, the questions raised and addressed in this volume center on strategies for effective teaching and learning. Collectively, these chapters supply a snapshot of the challenges and promises facing instructors of higher education. As a result, there are several potentially relevant sites for reflection and application.
Grouped thematically, student-centered chapters highlight raising awareness of White Privilege (chapter 1) and of global citizenship through on-campus threshold-crossing experiences (chapter 3), undergraduate research (chapter 4), and social justice (chapter 8). More instructor-centered chapters confront the role of self-reflective practices (chapter 2), and of online education (chapter 10). Curricular chapters focus on inter-disciplinarity in an engineering curriculum (chapter 5), on the impact of problem-based learning on Chinese students undertaking higher education outside of their homeland (chapter 6), and on assessment practices (chapter 9). Of all of the chapters in this volume, “Reframing teaching relationships: from student-centered to subject-centered teaching,” would be the most suitable starting point for the reader of the Wabash Center’s online reviews. Although this chapter is situated at the center of the volume (chapter 7), it serves as the organizing chapter because it tackles an issue raised more specifically in the other chapters. Employing frame theory, the authors respond to questions of self-identity and the teaching relationship by advocating subject-centered learning.
The strength of the volume rests with the particular contribution of each individual chapter. Offering a specific perspective in a local context, each author works within cleanly defined theoretical boundaries and approaches, and presents an argument worthy of further consideration and discussion. Despite this strength, however, the overall coherence of the volume suffers from the lack of a formal, introductory chapter and a final, concluding chapter. An additional chapter at the fore could justify the order of presentation of the collection (thematically topically, or through some other means) and facilitate the act of reading by explaining criteria for selection and inclusion; a closing chapter might indicate possible applications of the issues in other contexts and introduce new approaches or questions moving forward. The lack of these critical organizing chapters at the opening and closing of the volume requires the reader to determine the contours of coherence across the chapters and to impose frameworks for interpretation.
It was by now a pretty well-known social experiment. A man dressed like a homeless person collapses on the street and is ignored by pedestrians; when the same person puts on a business suit and collapses on the same street, however, a number of strangers quickly come to his aid. ...
My father, Lloyd R. Westfield, spent the majority of his career as a school psychologist with the Philadelphia public school system. He loved his job, and by many accounts, he was very good at his job. I have vivid memories of him, one summer, as an adjunct professor for Temple ...
My introduction to Old Testament course has served as an experimental site for decentering racializing master-narratives, especially those that have contributed to the marginalization of the Other in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands. As a Latino biblical scholar, decentering represents an important pedagogical tactic that is shaped and informed by various forms ...
Revisiting The Great White North? Reframing Whiteness, Privilege, and Identity in Education (Second Edition)
Date Reviewed: May 15, 2015
Published seven years after its first edition, Revisiting the Great White North? reframes the persistence of white privilege in Canadian educational context. As with the first edition, this book interrogates Canadian identity, multicultural discourse, and color-blindness mythologies that serve to hide and maintain white normativity. “It fills a gap in the Canadian literature on the ways Whiteness masquerades in our institutions and within Canadian mythologies” (xxvii).
Each of the original chapters from the 2007 edition is reproduced in this volume and is appended by new reflection questions and a brief reframing piece, written by the original author. One author revised her original piece, and one new chapter is added by a scholar from the province of Québec. With the exception of one scholar who taught Canadian students in Buffalo, N.Y., all of the authors are Canadian and represent nearly all of the provinces. The authors are all leaders in anti-racist education, including George Sefa Dei. Their perspectives are diverse not only in terms of region, but also in racial identity, ethnicity, discipline, and gender. Each author shares his or her implication in whiteness through both personal testimony and critical inquiry, contributing to the book’s engaging style and accessibility.
This volume contains five sections comprising three to five chapters. The first section focuses on conceptualizing whiteness; its chapters examine how white identity is constructed and reinforced in Canada, and how it presents barriers to teaching and learning. Section two is entitled “Whiteness and Second Peoples,” a phrase referring to the “colonizers of the First Nations” (7). These chapters consider the place of both non-white and white people in antiracism work. The danger of white scholars doing work that is motivated primarily by guilt is noted, pointing to the inadvertent reproduction of white power or an “overly optimistic representation of disadvantaged groups” (91). Section three is concerned with the development and deconstruction of white identity, including the “ability to be colour-blind and not colour-blind simultaneously” as “the hallmark of the achievement of a mature, anti-racist White identity” (119).
While the whole book is focused on whiteness and education, it is peppered with references to teaching experience and students’ comments. The last two sections are specifically concerned with teaching and learning. Section four spotlights the pervasive beliefs of white, middle-class university students that Canada is a raceless society and a pure meritocracy. The final section, “The Institutional Merit of Whiteness,” addresses race and identity related issues in education, exposing how whiteness is emphasized in school codes, administration, and policy development.
Revisiting the Great White North? is not limited to its Canadian context. It will be of interest to anyone who works to expose white privilege and promote anti-racism in the educational arena. While its attention is given to whiteness and race, it is critically aware of and makes reference to the intersection of race with ethnicity, class, and gender. The book is a must-read for those who wish to participate in an educational discourse that moves beyond liberal platitudes of “sympathetic knowledge about racial and cultural Others,” which “once again re-inscribe Whiteness as goodness and rationality” (186).15