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BOOK REVIEW / CRITIQUE DE LIVRE


Rosa Bruno-Jofré & James Scott Johnston (Eds.). Teacher Education in a Transnational World. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. (2014). 466 pp. $75.00 (hardcover). (ISBN 978-1-4426-4934-7).


R
osa Bruno-Jofré and James Scott Johnston’s edited collection, Teacher Education in a Transnational World, attempts to address the under-theorizing of teacher education programs alongside international policies and practices. This text is situated within a substantial body of literature considering the impact of globalization on educational policy and practice. This includes the work of political philosophers such as Martha Nussbaum (1996) and noted edited collections in educational research such as Globalization and Education: Critical Perspectives (Burbules & Torres, 2000) and more recent collections such as Critical Perspectives on International Education (Hébert & Abdi, 2013). This text employs a historical, sociological, and philosophical framework to expand on the questions raised by previous scholars; it does so by examining international and local practices and policies in education and teacher education programs specifically. Such an approach aims to be sensitive to the socio-economic and political contexts of educational practice. As the editors argue, this context is not only where global policy decisions are made, but are also spaces for transformation. As such, accounting for this context becomes critical for informed and meaningful educational practice, scholarship, and teacher education. The diverse analyses of the socio-economic and political contexts framing teacher education make this collection a significant contribution to educational research.

The collection is separated into five sections or “focal points”: (1) socio-political and intellectual spaces where teacher education is located: a historical, sociological, and philosophical approach; (2) paradigmatic changes in teacher education; (3) Aboriginal teacher education in a globalizing context; (4) the European setting; and (5) transnationalization and state policies. Across these focal points, the editors identify “strands” that are addressed explicitly and implicitly across chapters. These strands are centered on historical causation, ontological and epistemological commitments, the question of education’s aims, technology, the intersection of policy and the public, Aboriginal education, and issues of social justice.

A significant strength of this text, and one that makes it interesting for a wide range of audiences, is its examination of some of the “taken-for-granted,” foundational elements of education. Namely, beliefs about what constitutes knowledge, what it means “to be” in this world and in relationship with others, what is and should be education’s functions and aims, and so forth. One of the contributions this text makes to the scholarship is the approach it takes to these questions. The exploration of these questions is situated in local, national, and international events, policies, and processes. As such, both areas of questioning — the philosophical and the social — are enriched by being considered alongside one another. Such a broad and integrated perspective means that this book is relevant across a range of interested and affected stakeholders. One could assume from the title that only those interested in teacher education would find this text relevant; however, it is precisely because of the text’s ability to question relevant philosophical assumptions alongside local and global issues that the potential audience for this text is vast. Educators from across research interests, such as curriculum studies, philosophy of education, and comparative education, will find this collection versatile and useful for their own research and teaching. This collection has value not only for educational practitioners, but also for external stakeholders such as policy advisors and community partners. Given its uptake of political, sociological, and historical issues and flexibility in the theoretical frameworks it employs in analysis, this text also garners interest across disciplines. Consequently, the potential for this collection to invoke interdisciplinary debate and dialogue is high and one of its strengths.

A noteworthy contribution is this collection’s examination of global educational issues and international accords such as the Bologna Process. This analysis is robust as it considers the impact of the global on the local. Global scale processes can seem distant and removed from national and local practices; however, this text acutely brings the relationship between the global and the local to the forefront by bringing together philosophical discussions and case studies. For example, Leroy Whitehead’s chapter takes up a local case study by considering Ontario’s pre-service teacher education programs. The chapter analyzes Ontario’s teacher education program according to the current literature on transnationalization and questions whether these philosophical debates can impact the guiding paradigms of teacher education programs in Ontario. Looking simultaneously at the local and the global, or the local and the systemic elements of teacher education can be a daunting task, but one which this collection takes up without compromising one for the other.

I wish to echo and comment on the shortcomings of this text that are summarized well by Yvonne Hébert in the conclusion. In particular, considerations of social class, poverty (particularly in regards to questions of mobility), gender, resistance, the significance of social networks, and religion were overlooked. These are central elements for understanding global and local issues, cosmopolitanism, and transnational education. They are not only lenses for understanding but actively constitute and mark social, political, and economic relations. As such, these are not merely topics that were not included in the text, but rather, their oversight signifies the lack of an intersectional analysis on the part of some authors in the collection. The lack of an intersectional lens can result in an oversimplified analysis that is unable to provide solutions that meet the complex and compounded nature of identity, education, and experience in a transnational world. This shortcoming certainly does not render this text poor, but highlights an area for questioning and even an entry point for interdisciplinary dialogue.

On the question of “what is learning in a teacher education program?” that is at the centre of this special issue, this text suggests that learning should be connected to local and global issues and must not be limited to what happens in the classroom. Alongside this, learning should be continuously engaged in questioning foundational assumptions about education, both as a learner and a teacher. As such, learning should enact a flexible and critical understanding of education, one that is connected to the lived realities, challenges, and developments in the social, political, and economic world. With this dynamic understanding of what learning is and should be in a teacher education program, this collection broadens the possibilities for both the intellectual and practical education that teachers receive. In particular, it gestures at practices and programs that enable educators to be active citizens in a complex and pluralistic global community, committed to and responsible for all peoples.

Eleonora Joensuu Simon Fraser University

References

Burbules, N. C., & Torres, C. A. (Eds.). (2000). Globalization and education: Critical perspectives. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Hébert, Y. M., & Abdi, A. A. (Eds.). (2013). Critical perspectives on international education. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

Nussbaum, M. C. (1996). For love of country? Boston, MA: Beacon Press.