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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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3. Challenging Misrecognitions Through Reflexive Teacher Education: Knowing and Growing in an Age of Commodification (Noah Asher Golden)


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3. Challenging Misrecognitions Through Reflexive Teacher Education: Knowing and Growing in an Age of Commodification


Pulling Down the Veil

When I was a high school English teacher at Franz Fanon Academy1 (FFA), my colleagues and I worked hard to recognize our students’ strengths and accomplishments in an educational system that seemed designed to frame them as walking deficits. This framing is based on test scores, which can perhaps tell an educator what a student does not know or cannot yet do but often falls short when assessing what a person does know or can do. This way of measuring success and academic potential are particularly problematic for working class and poor young scholars of color, who are routinely denied educational opportunity and must contend with reductive stereotypes as they grow up in a society that routinely dehumanizes black and brown people. FFA is an alternative transfer high school designed for students who have not (yet) been successful in formal education. The stories that FFA students, the overwhelming majority of whom are students of color, would tell about why they chose to come to the school are as unique as each learner, but some common themes included the desire to attend smaller classes, to call teachers by their first names and feel valued by them, and to no longer be lost in the large urban, bureaucratic educational system within which FFA is situated.

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