Book By: Marilyn Cochran-Smith
Review By: Kathleen Carpenter, M.Ed.
Northern Arizona University
College of Education

Does your institution use the well-known book, The Indian in the Cupboard as part of its Language Arts curriculum?  Have you have thought that the book’s title was non-discriminatory and politically correct? What if the title of the book was instead, The Jew in the Cupboard or The Black in the Cupboard?  Would your perception of this book change? 

In Walking the Road: Race, Diversity, and Social Justice in Teacher Education, Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Professor of Education at Boston College, addresses learning and political problems associated with teacher preparation programs that impede and ultimately affect the way these programs are structured.  Cochran-Smith used experiences from her college’s teacher preparation program student cohort to discuss and ultimately revise her program curriculum.

Drawing upon thought-provoking reflections written by student teachers, cooperating teachers, and university supervisors, the author provides valuable insight into ways teaching methodologies can include issues pertaining to diversity, social justice, and race in teacher preparation programs. Instead of “teaching for diversity” the author insists that we “work together in communities of learners to explore and reconsider (our) own assumptions, understand the values and practices of families and cultures different than (our) own, and construct pedagogy that takes these into account in locally appropriate and culturally sensitive ways” (p. 46-47).

As an academic advisor who works with a predominately White population of students, I was horrified to think that I was anything but conscious of diversity and race issues in our teacher preparation program. After reading comments made by students of color who clearly indicated that the author’s program did not address issues of race and diversity, I was better able to reflect upon my own advising and counseling experiences relating to color blindness, or blindness to racial differences.

I recommend this book for professional academic advisors, faculty, and staff affiliated with teacher preparation programs. I found the information relevant, thought provoking, and energizing!  The in-depth reference section found at end of the book provides an excellent list of resources related to teacher preparation programs, the law, and policies affiliated with this profession.

Walking the Road: Race, Diversity, and Social Justice in Teacher Education. (2004). Book by Cochran-Smith, Marilyn. Review by Kathleen Carpenter. New York: Teachers College Press. 224 pp. $25.95.

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |