Collection of essays examines innovative approaches to teaching and learning

A number of essays written by faculty and graduate students in York’s Faculty of Education are featured in a recent publication that looks at situated and participatory approaches to teaching and learning. The book, Learning, Teaching, and Community: Contributions of Situated and Participatory Approaches to Educational Innovation (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005) was co-edited by York education Professor Sandra Schecter (right) and Lucinda Pease-Alvarez, associate professor of education at University of California, Santa Cruz. It brings together established and new scholarly voices with the aim of exploring the ways in which community-referenced approaches can contribute to educational equity.

Part one of the book titled, “Linking Pedagogy to Communities”, describe dynamic initiatives where practitioners collaborate with community members and other professionals as they acknowledge and build on the cultural, linguistic, and intellectual resources of ethnic-minority students and their communities. Chapter five examines a community-based initiative, the Indigenous Knowledge Instructors’ Program, designed to prepare prospective aboriginal teachers committed to developing instructional programming situated in traditional knowledge. York education Professor Celia Haig-Brown‘s vibrant account of this program describes how First Nations people literally remember their own knowledge by using it in everyday living situations and with interactions with others.

In part two titled, “Professional Learning for Diversity”, authors discuss their experiences in facilitating opportunities for working with prospective and practising teachers to develop situated pedagogies. In their chapter about teacher candidates’ learning through their participation in a service-learning practicum in inner-city Toronto, York education Professor and CERLAC Fellow Patrick Solomon and PhD candidates Randa Khattar Manoukian and Jennifer Clarke describe teacher candidates’ vacillation between conceptions of community involvement as charity work and as political engagement.

The chapters in part three, “Learning in Community (and Community in Learning)”, illustrate how educational innovation can extend beyond the realm of schools and classrooms by elucidating ways in which individuals construct learning venues in out-of-school settings. In Chapter 11, using information obtained through interviews with Caribbean-Canadian postsecondary students, York education Professor Carl James examines the role of “community” in the educational and occupational aspirations of immigrant students.

In Chapter 12, Karleen Pendleton Jiménez (PhD ‘05) complicates theoretical perspectives on the role identity plays in the learning of marginalized individuals through her examination of one participant’s experiences in Lengua Latina, a creative writing group of Latinas in Toronto. She alerts the reader to the challenges marginalized individuals face as they explore and negotiate identities, even within the context of supportive communities.

Collectively, these insightful essays written by York faculty and graduate students alert readers to ways in which community can be constructed other than in geographical and ethnoracial terms. Such representations may include alliances of a textual or ideological nature as well as collaborations that develop as a result of individuals having been grouped together to accomplish or negotiate shared agendas, or communities of practice. Authors describe communities that are committed to and enact their own reform agendas, underscoring the role of agency in representational practices and identity formation.