Engaging in Critical Social Dialogue with Socially Diverse Undergraduate Teacher Candidates at a California State University

May. 01, 2012

Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Volume 39, No. 2 Spring 2012

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article focuses on the process of critical social dialogue (CSD) in a mixed race and ethnicity sample of undergraduate teacher candidates at a California state university.

The participants were undergraduate teacher candidates, who participated in an interdisciplinary educational foundations course.
Data were collected through teacher journals of each class session to record the verbal interaction, topics of discussions, and instructor’s reaction to class activity and effectiveness of pedagogy. and three reflective written assignments were collected during approximately the third, sixth, and ninth week.


The author argues that critical social dialogue (CSD) in the undergraduate experience develops a knowledge and disposition on which multicultural and socially just pedagogy can be built. CSD, particularly in a socially diverse setting, is a powerful and potent technique to nurture positive learning and growth that develops undergraduate teacher candidates’ schema.

However, implementing CSD has its challenges.
First, for teacher educators, particularly challenging is the capacity to create classrooms as “third spaces".
In these spaces, professors have to create an environment where students and professor can develop their ability at CSD in a safe, individuated, and intellectual learning community within the constraints of academic calendars and classroom formats.
However, there are institutional impediments to faculty doing CSD well.
Institutional structures that impede the need and incentive for faculty development of these skills will have the potential tension-filled discussion on race relations or social differences with colleagues who devalue it over other curricular and academic charges.
Nevertheless, to do CSD well, teacher educators need to have a strong foundation in the literature of various social groups, intense introspection about and awareness of one’s relation to those groups, knowledge of intercultural and interracial communication, and modification to the traditional dynamics of teaching and learning.

A second challenge is creating that safe space that allows dominant and dominated students to equally share their perspectives and experiences.
The fact that some White students expressed their stories of Whiteness and beliefs in meritocracy demonstrates that CSD does allow them to speak out.

Furthermore, initiatives for teacher candidates to engage in such dialogue are insufficient without deliberate and careful attention to the real stakes and consequences of that engagement. However, beginning CSD in the undergraduate experience establishes the intellectual framework for multiculturalism, social justice, and democratic life that can be further developed in teacher preparation programs.
As a beginning foundation to being a multicultural and socially-just educator, CSD organically facilitates teacher candidates’ reflections on their experience and recasts them into a broader sense of humanity to understand the differences between us to sustain democracy for all.

Updated: Jun. 04, 2017