This forward-thinking volume focuses on the lives, professional practices and visions of literacy teacher educators. These visions encompass all aspects of language, with a focus on critical social practice and multimodal forms of communication. This book, in particular, will appeal to literacy specialists, administrators, teachers, teacher educators and policy-makers. The foreword is by Susan Lytle, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. A well-known educator and researcher, a literacy teacher and teacher educator for almost 50 years, who has published widely on literacy and urban teacher education, Lytle summarises the book, stating, 'The images of agentive teachers and teacher educators make palpable what it means to purposefully and systematically inquire into and learn from day-to-day practice in the light of different policies/politics and local contexts' (p. xix).
The 23 authors have extensive experience in teaching and educational research and represent a virtual who's who of teacher education. Educators from Canada, the United States, England and Australia, from research-based and teaching-focused educational institutions and at different stages of their careers, have their views represented here. This provides a broad spectrum of opinions and insights into the current state and necessary future direction of literacy teacher education. The book is divided into two sections: the first emphasises current issues in teacher education, and the second emphasises literacy teacher educators' practices. The chapters provide a unique richness in the sense that they homogenise both the nature of practice and the practical issues they seek to address.
Most of the 13 chapter essays contain an autobiography of the respective authors, outlining why they became literacy teacher educators and their ever-evolving notions of literacy and teaching as social practice and developing forms of communication. The reader can expect a personal overview of each author's pedagogy, theory and research. Furthermore, the authors share much deeper aspects of their work, which go to the heart of teaching and learning, such as their vulnerabilities, challenges and concerns. Issues of prejudice; the limited knowledge and experience of student teachers in dealing with urban education; and narrow local policies are all addressed through personal experience. This is what distinguishes this text from others. In both sections, detailed accounts of how these educators grapple with critical literacies (eg social justice, equity, poverty), multiliteracies and multimodal communications (eg digital technologies, social media, students' day-to-day lives), government initiatives (eg curriculum standards, accountability, reform) and the challenges of teaching in higher education (eg maintaining research, inquiry and community involvement) all work together to provide an in-depth understanding of the complex and demanding role of a literacy teacher educator.
The stories are compelling, the pedagogical suggestions are realistic and the struggles shared are honest. For example, American professor Kinloch describes how her upbringing in the segregated South influences her need to develop student teachers who will combat racism and segregation, while professors Ghiso and Campano make a case for their deep affiliation with social justice because of their histories with immigration. In the realm of pedagogy, British professor Marshall describes in detail how she and her co-workers use film, literature and technologies to encourage student teachers to move between modes of expression, despite the conservative views of their government which advises only the use of the traditional modes of reading and writing. In Walsh and Durrant’s chapter, 'Multiliteracies: A slow movement in literaCy minor', these professors from Australia outline several reasons why other literacy teacher educators may not be modelling the current practices that their student teachers require to be competent educators in the 21st century. They suggest their already 'crowded tertiary curriculum' and the mandates of the 'National Curriculum' under which they must operate do not allow for extra topics. These sorts of frustrations are echoed throughout the book.
The concluding chapter takes an interesting turn, as three of the five editors analyse the previous chapters as data for 'salient issues and themes' and present these as a form of 'educational significance'. Some of the key themes listed include: clash with government initiatives; rethinking literacy in a digital age; and thoughtfulness and integrity about teaching and research. The editors conclude with a call for changes in literacy teacher education to accommodate the shifting landscape of literacy, but recognise that the authors in this volume have a 'sense of hope', confirming that with dedication, integrity and commitment, teaching for new era can be accomplished.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and gained much insight from it.
Reviewed by Cathy Miyata, Brock University, Ontario, and University of Toronto, Canada
Review by (Cathy Miyata) (2014) 'Literacy teacher educators: preparing teachers for a changing world' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 4 (No.1), 50–54.