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Learning from Counternarratives in Teach For America

Moving from Idealism Towards Hope

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Sarah Matsui

Grounded in the belief that hope comes from a place of reality, not necessarily popular ideology, this book explores the gap between designated and actual narratives within Teach For America. TFA founder Wendy Kopp stated that there is «nothing elusive» about successful teaching; people simply need to «work hard» and be «disciplined». Taking an inquiry stance, Sarah Matsui surveyed and interviewed 26 of her fellow corps members in the Greater Philadelphia region. Their counternarratives collectively problematize this standard reform rhetoric. Many are working hard, yet their stories and challenges are complex, elusive, and commonly self-described with the words «shame», «failure», and «isolating». Corps members reported experiencing new levels of fatigue, alcohol dependency, depression, and trauma during their two-year service commitment with TFA. Learning from Counternarratives in Teach For America utilizes multiple frameworks to analyze the depth and range of corps members’ experiences. Relevant to helping professionals and people working to address constructed systems of inequity, this book ultimately advocates for a more honest, contextualized, and egalitarian approach to reform – one that openly addresses both individual and systemic realities.
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Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education

General Editor Shirley R. Steinberg

Counterpoints publishes the most compelling and imaginative books being written in education today. Grounded on the theoretical advances in criticalism, feminism, and postmodernism in the last two decades of the twentieth century, Counterpoints engages the meaning of these innovations in various forms of educational expression. Committed to the proposition that theoretical literature should be accessible to a variety of audiences, the series insists that its authors avoid esoteric and jargonistic languages that transform educational scholarship into an elite discourse for the initiated. Scholarly work matters only to the degree it affects consciousness and practice at multiple sites. Counterpoints’ editorial policy is based on these principles and the ability of scholars to break new ground, to open new conversations, to go where educators have never gone before.

For additional information about this series or for the submission of manuscripts, please contact:

Shirley R. Steinberg c/o Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 29 Broadway, 18th floor New York, New York 10006

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