Diversity in Teacher Education

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has released a new volume, Studying Diversity in Teacher Education, published by Rowman & Littlefield on behalf of AERA. Although there is a considerable body of knowledge on diversity in education, research focusing on diversity in teacher education is sparse. This important book adds considerably to what we know and points to promising directions of future research.

AERA President-elect Arnetha F. Ball of Stanford University and Cynthia A. Tyson of Ohio State University are the volume’s co-editors, and they, along with 31 contributing scholars, provide a solid, research-based foundation on diversity in teacher education and how research can inform its consideration.

As coeditors, Ball and Tyson hope that the research and issues examined can add to considerations of how to “accelerate educational parity across sociocultural and sociopolitical barriers” and “overcome the legacy of academic failure that plagues so many diverse students.”

The coeditors stress that some of the book’s significant insights come from the contributing scholars who themselves represent diverse backgrounds and “who are anthropological members in the communities they study.”
These scholars “feel some sociological affiliation” with the communities in which they are working.

Research on diversity in teacher education has only emerged since the 1980s, with thoughtful literature being produced in these recent decades. This research shows that teacher educators need to be challenged to create a new, interdisciplinary model for multicultural teacher education — cultivated as a field with issues of equity at its core.

Current research on diversity in teacher education is wide ranging and illuminates strengths and limitations. Areas under study include attempts to erase LGBTQ subjects from teacher education programs; indigenous youth and how they learn in and outside rural public high schools through relationships with adults; and the relationships among Black language, Black literacy, and Black male identity.

Other current research concentrates on professional development topics, such as preparing teachers to work with students with disabilities and strategizing an approach that develops educators who are better equipped to respond to “socially toxic environments.”

Ball and Tyson emphasize the value of the current state-of-the-knowledge yet also stress the need for more sustained and robust research in the future. They write that “the need for that research is made more evident by the continuing achievement gap.” They also note the importance of situating research on diversity in teacher education so that it is sensitive to the global context of 21st-century classrooms.

In the foreword, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University points out that the book frames a multitude of issues on student and teacher learning that will enable researchers and teacher educators to take up critical questions, including “How can new teachers transmit not only skills and knowledge but also self-awareness and respect for others? What do teachers need to know and be able to do to teach diverse learners effectively? And how can they learn this? What do teacher educators need to know and be able to do to take up this important work?”