Making culture a more central concept in the texts and contexts of teacher education is the focus of this book. It is a rich account of the author's investigation of teacher book club discussions of ethnic literature, specifically ethnic autobiography--as a genre from which teachers might learn about culture, literacy, and education in their own and others' lives, and as a form of conversation and literature-based work that might be sustainable and foster teachers' comprehension and critical thinking. Dr. Florio-Ruane's role in the book clubs merged participation and inquiry. For this reason, she blends personal narrative with analysis and description of ways she and the book club participants explored culture in the stories they told one another and in their responses to published autobiographies. She posits that autobiography and conversation may be useful for teachers not only in constructing their own learning about culture, but also, by doing so, in participating in the transformation of learning within the teaching profession.
"Through the use of, and sustained conversations about autobiographical texts, Florio-Ruane introduces teacher education students and experienced teachers to the complex nature of culture…[she] has written an important and insightful book."
—Anthropology & Education Quarterly
"The book includes an excellent list of readings and references that can be used in courses dealing with cross-cultural issues. Recommended for advanced students, teacher educators, and researchers."
"Florio-Ruane's prose is elegant and the book is exceptionally readable, a welcome respite from texts that we educational researchers label social science 'literature.' …Teacher Education and the Cultural Imagination will assist teachers educators who seek methods to help traditional preservice candidates discover their own cultural assumptions and with them, social realities of inequality."
"It's never easy for teachers to develop a good understanding of multicultural issues; it's even harder to support them in actually changing their practice so that classrooms become more welcoming to the country's rainbow of children. Susan Florio-Ruane's wonderful book shows that passionate dialogue in small groups about multicultural literature and autobiography can transform teachers' lives and practice, whether they are brand-new apprentices in a teacher ed program, or veteran teachers enrolled in a university course, or teachers in schools taking part in a voluntary book club. She offers a way to promote multicultural understanding and teaching not based on a kit of techniques or a particular body of information, but rather on a humane vision of learning as a process of critical engagement with texts, ideas, other people, and oneself. She argues convincingly for a broad and deeply intellectual, yet practical and concrete, vision of teacher development in which teachers not only begin to explore 'hot lava' issues of race and class, gender and culture, but also themselves as thinkers and articulate voices. This book is an outstanding example of how to do the two most difficult things at once: to understand and to help."
Michigan State University
"Florio-Ruane has written and important and insightful book. She has taken up the challenge to educate her students about the role culture plays in the lives of teachers."
New Mexico State University
"Susan argues for the importance of addressing the role of culture in our own lives, as teachers and teacher educators, as a way of gaining insights about the role of culture in the lives of our students. Few steps can be more vital to improving education for the many students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds who already constitute the majority in every urban school district in the United States."
University of Hawai'i, From the Foreword
"As a reader, I felt quite privileged in seeing Susan Florio-Ruane's thinking as she wove together the text of her own life, the texts of the lived experiences of the participants in the Future Teachers' Autobiography Club, literature that the club read, and a broad collection of sociolinguistic and sociocultural literature. She wove the various texts together to create a context for the reader that is inspirational and encouraging in light of the many 'guilts' we feel within the present complexity of facing what multicultural means. This book is an important contribution to the field….It pushes our understanding of how teachers and future teachers study and learn together….THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for including me as a reader."
—Richard J. Meyer
University of New Mexico
Contents: K. Au, Foreword. Introduction. Turning Inward to Begin Cultural Inquiry. Talking and Thinking About Culture. The Stories by Which We Teach. Conversation and Narrative in the Future Teachers' Autobiography Club. Inquiry Into Autobiography and Conversation. Narrating Culture in Book Talk. Transformative Genres. Difficult Conversations. Culture Across Texts and Contexts: The Literary Circle. How Culture Matters. Appendix: Sample Narratives.