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Parallel Practices

Social Justice-Focused Teacher Education and the Elementary School Classroom


Barbara Regenspan

In Parallel Practices, a social justice-focused elementary teacher educator narrates her own experience with the rationale for selected lessons from critical literacy, equity-oriented multiculturalism, and pedagogical practice courses. She examines the «parallel practice» implications of her own curriculum with graduate students for the work her students will do with children. Regenspan situates her practices in a unique interpretation of John Dewey’s thinking – one that suggests a standpoint for both her own curriculum-making and that of her students in opposition to the division of labor into thinking work and doing work. Using Dewey’s later thinking, which calls for the integration of «mind-body in wholeness of operation,» Regenspan insists that the work of social justice-focused education is equally political and spiritual.

«I do think Barbara Regenspan’s work on teaching for social justice and using the arts (most particularly literature) is original and challenging. I even think she opens new pathways in our thinking about both teacher education and elementary classrooms. I am also moved and impressed by her insightful treatment of ‘activism.’ She avoids all the pitfalls of irrelevant ideology, ‘political correctness,’ etc., and always has in mind the age and developmental stages of the children affected, even as she holds in mind the requirements of parents and members of the community when it comes to the encouragement of understanding on a number of levels.» (Maxine Greene, Professor of Philosophy and Education, The Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation, Columbia University, New York)
«At last, a book for teacher educators who seek understanding about the issues of social justice in education and look for guidance, examples, and activities to use in their own courses and programs. Barbara Regenspan is an experienced educator who clearly knows of what she writes. She is an intellectual with the heart of an activist. She clearly explains how to develop curriculum of inquiry and service. She provides numerous examples of children and teachers engaged in classroom practices of social justice while learning academic content and skills. This book will be a much-used companion to those who care deeply about promoting a wise and caring generation of students.» (Carl D. Glickman, President, The Institute for Schools, Education, and Democracy, Inc., Chair of The Program for School Improvement, and University Professor Emeritus of Social Foundations of Education, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia)
«‘Parallel Practices’ is an original piece of scholarship that makes intricate connections between heretofore disparate and unrelated realms of research and theory. Dr. Regenspan provides a pathway from the important – but too-often inaccessible and increasingly repetitive and dull – work of critical theory to a highly desirable teaching practice that is engaged, robust, and purposeful. Using autobiographical reflection, theoretical and qualitative inquiry, and field experiments, Dr. Regenspan makes a unique contribution to our knowledge about teaching teachers to value and engage issues of social justice in their practice.» (William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education, Senior University Scholar, Director, Center for Youth and Society, University of Illinois at Chicago)