Searching for Social Justice in Teacher Education in one Australian Regional University

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This study explores lecturers’ and preservice teachers’ preparedness to teach for social justice while teaching and studying in an Australian primary teacher education course. Using the theory of dispositions (Bourdieu, 1986) and the Theory of Possible Selves as a theoretical framework, and narrative inquiry as a methodology (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), I examine preservice teachers’ and lecturers’ stories as meaningful contributions to current knowledge about social justice in teacher education.

    Empirical data included official university documents, preservice teachers’ written assignments, interviews with preservice teachers and interviews with lecturers. Data analysis included a review of university official written documents, using Leximancer software. Preservice teachers’ written assignments, interviews with preservice teachers and interviews with lecturers were coded and thematically analysed for themes.

    This study identifies two key findings: the scant and minor role of social justice in the wording of the university’s official documents, suggesting an ambiguous articulation between university goals and specific courses; and an overall perception by both preservice teachers and lecturers that graduates are under-prepared to teach for social justice.

    The Theory of Possible Selves frames the discussion and implications of the study. This theory suggests some potential to deliberate upon the mechanism of practices of social justice in teacher education. Both preservice teachers and lecturers negotiate their own past, present and future possible selves to define social justice in teacher education. The idea of possible selves suggests preparing preservice teachers to be classroom ready for social justice as a process of ongoing articulation. The Theory of Possible Selves facilitates language of aspiration, which creates the conditions for preservice teachers’ confidence to teach for social justice.

    Some of these conditions would include:
    1. Social justice content in teacher education being embedded across and integrated into units, including learning areas, not relegated to the periphery.
    2. Lecturers reconsider their role to share the dialogue of social justice as an educational goal of the teacher education program.
    3. Preservice teachers have aspirations of possibility, so that their teaching for social justice becomes a possibility.
    4. An understanding that social justice and teacher education are linked, but their links can be unsettled in historical and social contexts.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBea Staley (Supervisor), Sue Shore (Supervisor) & Georgie Nutton (Supervisor)

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