UNCOVERING CRITICAL PEDAGOGY DISPOSITIONS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATION
Sellen, Joanne Eileen
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The purpose of the studies presented in this paper is to examine the critical pedagogy dispositions demonstrated by teacher-learners in the education of English Language Learners (ELLs). Most coursework in teacher education for ELLs centers on sheltering academic content. Without examining the socio-political circumstances of ELLs' lives, teachers and policy-makers may believe that English skills alone will result in improved life opportunities for these learners. K-12 teacher education should also examine teachers' beliefs about meritocracy, language development, immigration, and assimilation. Using Bartolomé's (2004) "commonalities" of effective teachers of ELLs, a framework comprising six pedagogy dispositions was created: 1) an understanding of the inequities of the social order for culturally and linguistically diverse students; 2) a rejection of meritocracy as the reason for ELLs' lack of upward mobility; 3) a rejection of the belief that ELLs' cultures and languages are deficits; 4) an ability to question the strengths and weaknesses of mainstream, middle-class white culture; 5) an ability to empathize with the struggles of ELLs; 6) an ability to advocate and guide ELLs through the American educational system. An exploratory study was conducted to uncover whether the six critical pedagogy dispositions were evident or lacking in teacher-learners in an online bilingual/ESL endorsement course. The participants demonstrated four of the dispositions; "a rejection of meritocracy" and "the ability to question the strengths and weaknesses of mainstream middle-class white culture" were not evident in the data. A second study, with a larger number of teacher-learners, was conducted of an online course on the foundations of bilingual/ESL education. The data revealed the same pattern as the pilot study. The data also indicated that teacher-learners may not subscribe to the ideology of meritocracy as a predictor of success for ELLs; instead, they point to English proficiency as the primary predictor of success. Implications for teacher education were found in five areas: the need for more ELL coursework, the value of experiential learning in developing empathy, the inclusion of critical pedagogy readings and authentic materials, the need for examining ideologies of meritocracy and White middle-class culture, and the need for critical pedagogy in educational leadership curriculum.