Book By: Gay Wilgus (Ed.)
Review By: Julie Larsen
Undergraduate Academic Affairs Advising
University of Washington
As academic advisers, we understand the value of a story, and recognize why a student’s individual experience can have a large impact on how they move through the university experience. In Knowledge, Pedagogy, and Postmulticultrualism: Shifting the locus of learning in urban teacher education, readers are walked through seven case studies that show how powerful valuing story and the student experience can be in reshaping education. The book begins by laying a foundation for why educators should consider shifting classroom pedagogy in our current K-12 education system. Calling on the theory of community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005), as well as the concept of using Funds of Knowledge for Teaching (Moll, Amanti, Neff, Gonzalez, 1992), the case studies show how allowing students and educators to share their stories, both parties were able to sense better ownership over their educational experience. The book presents that our current mode of “teaching toward the test” sets up a knowledge giver and knowledge taker dichotomy which can make learning hard for students who do not see a way to connect learning to personal experience. Instead, the classroom experience needs to be viewed as a partnership in which each person’s story, and each person’s truth, has a space.
The case studies in the book specifically look at classroom pedagogies and teacher training methods for K-12 urban education settings. While a majority of the practices would not be easy, or even relevant, to implement in an advisee/adviser relationship, three chapters addressing the use of oral histories (chapter 1), inquiry based classroom settings (chapter 4), and how teacher’s prior beliefs influence their views on child development (chapter 5) have application to advising practices. In each of these chapters, the students and or teacher candidates were asked to integrate their own stories into the learning process. Specifically in chapter 4, students were tasked to recreate a government structure in for a unit on the American government system. By being asked how their own identities were either represented or not represented in the current structure, their classroom system had an evolved system in which everyone had equal representation. Through this exercise, the students successfully audited the current American system and came up with challenges and triumphs.
This book may prove to be most useful for advisers who choose a developmental, appreciative, and/or transformational approach in their advising. Due to the high level of student engagement and attention to the student experience in these models, integrating stories and lived experiences may seem like a logical step. Further, while I think all advisers can benefit from research and reading around community cultural wealth and funds of knowledge, I think advisers who are currently working with a large number of International/Immigrant students may also benefit from the book. The case studies can serve as a guide to begin asking questions and providing an environment in which the advisee feels comfortable sharing their story, and more importantly is able to make connections between their background and their educational experience.
Knowledge, Pedagogy, and Postmulticulturalism: Shifting the locus of learning in urban teacher education. (2013). Book by Gay Wilgus (Ed.). Review by Julie Larsen. Palgrave Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.646-307-5151. $85.00 (Hardback). ISBN 978-1-137-27589-9