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Unsettling Education

Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform


Edited By Brian Charest and Kate Sjostrom

Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform offers a counter-narrative to the prevailing orthodoxies of schooling and school reform that conflate education and learning with that which can be measured on state-mandated examinations. Despite the push to "settle" the purposes of teaching and schooling in ways that see education as the teaching of a discrete set of skills that align with standardized exams, there are teachers and students who continue to resist standardization and whose stories suggest there are many ways to organize schools, design curriculum, and understand the purposes of education. Unsettling Education shares stories of how teachers have resisted state and local mandates to teach to the test in dehumanizing ways, how such teachers have sought to de-commodify educational spaces, how they have enacted their ethical commitments to students and communities, and how they have theorized such practices, sometimes even reconsidering their roles as teachers and the very purposes of schooling. Volume contributors offer concrete ways in which teachers might challenge the structures of schooling to reveal the full humanity and potential of students through different forms of resistance pedagogy, institutional critiques, and critical self-reflection. Featuring a wide range of voices and contexts, the collections’ chapters blend story and theory, resulting in a volume both accessible and thought-provoking to varied audiences—from undergraduate students of education and concerned citizens to veteran educators, teacher educators, administrators, and policymakers.

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Deborah Bieler is an associate professor in the English Education program at the University of Delaware. She is a former high school English teacher and writing center director whose scholarship, teaching, and activism focus on the preparation and retention of equity-oriented secondary English teachers. She is the author of the book Staying to Talk, Talking to Stay: Equity-Oriented Interactions and Retention in Schools. Her work has also appeared in journals such as English Education, English Journal, Teachers College Record, Teacher Education Quarterly, and The New Educator as well as in co-authored chapters in Innovations in Pre-Service English Language Arts Teacher Education and Diversifying the Teacher Workforce: Preparing and Retaining Highly Effective Teachers. She has received the National Council of Teachers of English Promising Researcher Award, the University of Delaware Trabant Award for Women’s Equity, and the Conference on English Education Research Initiative Award.

Mikela Bjork, after graduating from Smith College, began her teaching career as a Kindergarten Teacher’s Assistant in her hometown of Charlottesville, VA. She then moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she received her Masters degree in Special Education and worked in an inclusive high school math and science classroom for five years. Inspired by the strength and resilience of her students, as they worked within a system that seemed in many ways to work against them, she began her journey as a doctoral candidate, receiving her PhD from The Graduate Center, City University of New York in 2017. She currently works at the...

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