I (Pooja) recently finished reading Negotiating critical literacies with teachers: Theoretical foundations and pedagogical resources for pre-service and in-service contexts (Vasquez, V.M., Tate, S.L, & Harste, J.C., 2013). This book provides a theoretical framework, insightful examples, and pedagogical resources for ways to incorporate critical literacy practices into pre-service and in-service teacher education. The final chapter of this text entitled “Teaching and living critical literacies” especially interested me. This concluding chapter focused on the narratives of the authors who are all teacher educators. They shared early childhood memories, classroom teaching experiences, and turning points (e.g. being the first in the family to attend college; protesting the Viet Nam War). Much of what the book’s authors shared in their written narratives reflected closely what many of our critical literacy participants in our SSHRC study have expressed. Many can identify turning points and life events in their early childhood, which contributed significantly to their philosophy and stance towards teaching and learning. Maya from our study identified being placed in a low-track after immigrating to the U.S. as a defining moment. This has influenced her practice because she now focuses on having her student teachers understand multiple perspectives and interrogate their assumptions of students, curriculum, and schooling. Providing a specific example of this pedagogical stance, Maya told us about how she conducts an entire lecture in Spanish, locating student teachers as second language learners.
This final chapter reinforced how meaningful it is to create space for the voices of literacy teacher educators. The narratives of our participants are rich with experiences that influence their practices in the classroom. Stacie L. Tate, book author and teacher educator, articulates this well: “When people ask how I decided to become a teacher and researcher, I always reply, “I was groomed for this.” (p. 99).