“English is not a construct, not a given or an essence; and the construct of English is not monolithic.” ~Ursula Kelly
Hello All! I read Ursula Kelly’s reading on the begining secondary english teacher educational programs. This reading tied into a number of other readings (Apple, Gee) and discussions we had in the last class about issues such as identity, discourse and power, and political and economical issues in our schools. The difference in this reading is that it focuses more on these issues and how they effect future teachers of secondary english (ourselves).
Kelly discusses the inner conflict most begining teachers of secondary english feel as they attempt to find themselves and their purpose as teachers in the classroom. Kelly discusses how many begining teachers each have different notions of what knowledge of english is most important and how this should be taught. How invested and to what degree these teachers are invested in this knowlege shapes how the future teacher invisions him/herself as a future facilitator. This disucussion can be closely related to Gee and Apple’s ideas on discourse and education and how these discourses relationships to power can be reiterated through the subject of English. Kelly describes the discourses of knowledge as “deeply political” and “extremely competitive” and therefore it is important for the begining teacher to examine and challange these discourses functions in the classroom. This can prove to be difficult, however, as most teachers when placed in a school to student teach are assigned mentors who have time rather than interest in guiding them. Also, many begining teachers are worried about “rocking the boat” and often feel compelled to, as Kelly puts it, “ride the normative wave” of what the supervising mentor assigns as important knowledge. Kelly calls this coping strategy “splitting-off.” This manuever helps the future teacher feel they belong among their collegues and peers but is problematic because it forces them to put aside their own convictions and teaches them to step down and reside to the given discourse.
Kelly states that the only way to prevent future teachers from falling into this trap of “splitting-off” is to examine, alongside their mentors, our old relationships with knowledge and form a “new premise for pedagogy.” Kelly asks us to think about what beliefs about knowlege, we as future teachers, hold sacred and think about these beliefs in terms of whether or not they are our own or we are just an embodiement of discourse. Finally, are these beliefs worthy of reproduction?