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Educators on Diversity, Social justice, and Schooling: A Reader.

Educators on Diversity, Social justice, and Schooling: A Reader

by Sonya E. Singer and Mary Jane Harkins

Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholars Press, 2018, 402 pages

ISBN: 978-1-77338-049-0 (paperback/hardcover)

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights (section 25), official bilingualism (sections 16-20), and multiculturalism (section 27). The Charter also protects citizens from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or disability (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982). The spirit and values instilled by the Charter are significant to the field of education mission statements and policies endorsing diversity, inclusion and equity. Combined with different communities' advocacy for social change, teachers are increasingly called to impart equal opportunities for all children in increasingly diverse classrooms with equitable curricular and pedagogical practices. In that context, Educators on Diversity, Social Justice and Schooling: A Reader provides insight for practitioners. This book is edited by Sonya E. Singer and Mary Jane Harkins, with each chapter's authors representing various theoretical and methodological approaches. The book is organized in three thematic sections: diversity, social justice, and schooling. The editors and authors seek to instigate a profound engagement with educational inequality, equity, institutional practices, and social change.

In the first section, diversity is explored primarily through the concepts of race, racism, and culturally responsive pedagogy. The conceptual or conversational content include Chapters 1, 3, 5 and 6. In Chapter 1, using an autobiographical approach, Didi Khayatt discusses different life anecdotes to argue that race is closely intertwined with gender and class and should not be analysed in isolation in educational contexts. In Chapter 3, using the West African Griot tradition, Wendy Mackey draws from her own educational autobiographical trajectory and her professional struggles as an African Nova Scotian teacher, vice-principal, and instructional leader to demonstrate how institutional transformation is possible through the use of culturally relevant pedagogy. In Chapter 5, Carmen Rodriguez de France and Sarah Winona Waldron, both Indigenous from Mexico and Canada respectively, engage in a conversation about culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and pedagogies in the classroom. In Chapter 6, using a narrative and life-writing approach, Ann V. Dean asks if institutions are engaging in the performance and appearance of diversity while racism and the power structure remain unaddressed. In Chapters 2 and 4, results from qualitative studies are provided. In Chapter 2, Luigi Iannacci analyzes data from an ethnographic study using sociocultural, multiliteracies, and critical multicultural theories to examine the impact of certain assumptions on culturally and linguistically diverse children in two kindergartens and two grade one classrooms. The author contends that deficit-oriented assumptions limit students' learning opportunities and that a social-justice perspective can transform teaching and learning contexts. In Chapter 4, using culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP) theory and interviews with teacher candidates and associate teachers, Manu Sharma delves into the practical challenges that teachers experience in their efforts to implement CRRP.

In the second section, colonialism, the critical role of provincial child advocates and inclusive teaching practices inform the dialogue about social justice. Chapters 7, 8 and 12 offer primarily conceptual content that encourages reflection. In Chapter 7, Gowri Parameswaran synthesizes the historical legacy of global colonialism including the current power differentials and the continued privileges held by people from the Global North. In Chapter 8, a group of teachers delve into their various interpretations of inclusive education using an arts-based approach. In Chapter 12, Susan Beierling and W. James Paul frame how modernist philosophical assumptions influence the way schools sort and categorize students and construct citizenship. Chapters 9 to 11 present the analysis of qualitative data using interviews and discourse analysis. In Chapter 9, using a narrative approach, Sarah Elizabeth Barrett and Cal E. James demonstrate that it is relevant for researchers to unpack the connections teachers make between their own personal life story and the stories they tell about their immediate school community to understand their motivations and challenges. In Chapter 10, Daniella Bendo's discourse analysis illustrates how further research is needed to understand advocates' interpretations of their roles and barriers to advocacy. In Chapter 11, Stephanie Tuters, John P. Portelli, and Angela MacDonald-Vemic conclude that the emphasis on performance, tensions around subversion, the lack of support, and the standardization of curricular and pedagogical practices constitute challenges to social justice education.

In the third section, the chapters delve into the purpose of schooling and social transformation. Chapters 13, 15 and 16 present conceptual and conversational content. In chapter 13, Adrian Downey and Gonen Sagy engage in a conversation that interrogates the purpose of education while discussing the contribution of Indigenous worldviews in education. In Chapter 15, Yvette Daniel and John Antoniw reflect on how mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and an ethics of responsibility can close the gap between the theory and practice of social justice. In Chapter 16, Wendy Barber, Lorayne Robertson, Bill Walters and Geoff Whent draw from their professional experiences to share how a physical literacy model increases the participation of students with different physical abilities in physical education classes. Chapters 14, 17 and 18 draw from qualitative research projects using interviews, arts-based methods, and ethnography. In Chapter 14, using transformative learning theory and a narrative approach with three teacher educators, Kathy Sanford, Bruno de Oliveira Jayme, and David Monk discuss how experiential learning, auto-ethnography and painting can help future teachers reflect upon students who live in the margins. In Chapter 17, drawing from the input of students with disabilities, M. Lynn Aylward and Cynthia Bruce argue that a disability studies in education framework can result in meaningful inclusive post-secondary education for students with disabilities on campus. In Chapter 18, drawing from ethnographic data, Patricia Danyluk illustrates how the use of anti-oppressive children's literature engages students to challenge gender and sexuality norms.

This collection of biographical, reflective, theoretical, and empirical chapters using various methodologies, including Indigenous, narrative, and arts-based approaches, provides a heterogeneous and creative outlook on equity in education. Each chapter includes key discussion questions, resources and activities that can support the training of teachers' candidates and associates and early childhood educators. While the book contains some practical ideas to foster equity in education, this book is first and foremost a catalyst for reflection which can inspire practitioners.


Government of Canada. 1982. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Constitutional Act.

Reviewed by/ Revu par

Johanne Jean-Pierre

School of Child and Youth Care, Ryerson University
COPYRIGHT 2019 Canadian Society for the Study of Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Jean-Pierre, Johanne
Publication:Canadian Journal of Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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