Who Would Want to Teach There? A Critical Exploration of How New Teachers Conceptualize Geographies of Schooling about Canadian "Inner City" Schools and Implications for Education Policy
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This dissertation examines geographies of schooling in relation to how a group of new teachers in Canada conceptualize “inner city” schooling as a uniquely Canadian construct. The study uses a critical approach that explores issues of race, and their intersections with issues of gender, social class, and other identity markers. Seven new teachers graduating from a 2009-2010 teacher education program in the province of Ontario, Canada took part in this study. As a function of the inner city, the inner city school is problematized as a particular geographical space, complete with its own meanings. Results of this study indicate that new teacher conceptualizations of Canadian inner city schools are not uniform and coherent, but complex, contradictory, and dependent upon each individual teacher’s experiences with difference. Overall, participants demonstrated limited ability to speak to their own racial identities in relation to teaching in such schooling contexts. Because most participants learned to teach in predominantly White field-placement settings, they perceived race to be a non-issue and recognized it as a construct only if raced bodies were present. With respect to issues of gender, participants most often discussed what is often referred to as the feminization of teaching in elementary schools. However, there was a profound sense in which inner city schools were conceptualized as “male space” or as space from which female teachers needed protection. This was informed by a widespread conception that male teachers could more effectively manage inner city students. Classroom management emerged as an issue that concerned participants with the least experience with difference. Finally, there was a direct relationship between the theoretical approaches used by the teacher education program in discussing inner city schooling and individual teacher ability to articulate their pedagogical approaches to teaching in this milieu.