There are so many constraints on teachers, and we don’t help them think about the ways educators have used their agency to make change and make decisions about the way education would be experienced by countless kids.
Tina Y. Gourd (PhD ‘15) and Jennifer Gale de Saxe (PhD ‘14) are graduates of the UW College of Education and co-editors of the recently published book “Rearticulating Education and Social Change: Teacher agency and resistance, early 20th century to the present.”
The book demonstrates activist work by educators throughout the history of education. Underemphasized modes of resistance are analyzed within the context of their communities, and impacts from historical and cultural factors on the individual educators’ efforts are viewed through a lens of teacher agency.
Both said their experiences as educators and observations of their students in school drove them to look into historical gaps in the stories told by mainstream texts.
“The students had paid close attention to the ways in which the history of education was being discussed,” de Saxe said. “It was from a deficit perspective, meaning the history was told through these important historical moments of oppression and marginalization but didn’t include the resistance movements that came alongside these horrific times throughout history.”
When discussing American Indian boarding schools, de Saxe said her class kept asking why they weren’t also paying attention to ways the communities were resisting the schools and the religious oppression.
De Saxe described working with her students to supplement course material with specific accounts from teachers and students throughout history. At one point, her students even wrote a letter to an academic author describing how he was only providing one side of the story.
Gourd also focuses on supporting novice teachers.
“There are so many constraints on teachers,” she said, “and we don’t help them think about the ways in which all kinds of educators have used their agency to make change and to make decisions about the way education would be experienced by countless kids.”
The two editors discuss the idea that teaching is one of the most political professions with the potential to create a huge impact.
Other College of Education graduates who contributed chapters to the book include Donna Jordan-Taylor, Kate Napolitan and Kathryn Nicholas. UW professor Ken Zeichner also shares his thoughts in the foreword.
Find the book in the Routledge Research in Education series.
Story by Olivia Madewell, marketing and communications student aide.
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications