Perpetually "needs improvement": pre-service teachers' knowledge of social justice and education
SubjectSocial justice and education
Social justice concepts and teacher education
Pre-service teacher positionality
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The author of this thesis uses grounded theory methodology to illuminate pre-service teachers’ understandings of social justice concepts, theories, and perspectives at the beginning of their teacher education programs. Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of inequity, marginalization, and deep systematic oppression, and how these perceptions are influenced by their positionalities and inform their views of social justice education, are explored. Such an exploration involves an analysis of how inequality, power, and privilege are embedded within social structures and perpetuated through socialization in educational contexts. In analysis of their experiences shared through online surveys, the author uncovers multiple complexities in pre-service teachers’ understandings of social justice and social justice education. While the majority of participants felt a moral responsibility to engage in social justice education, their conceptualization of such concepts was heavily influenced by discourses of tolerance and individualism, both of which serve to perpetuate social injustices. Recommendations for teacher education programs are provided in an attempt to increase pre-service teacher understanding of social justice, and their roles and responsibilities in relation to social justice in their future work as educators.