Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
This paper draws upon data from a year-long, critical ethnographic study of a cohort of social studies teacher candidates in order to elaborate U.S. teacher candidates’ professional socialization as they make their foray into public schools. After a grueling and hectic certification process, U.S. teacher candidates have experienced the full thrust of institutional contradictions inherent to increasingly fragmented and bureaucratized university-based teacher education (TE) (e.g., Labaree, 2010; Zeichner, 2009). While public schools demand teachers who can prepare youth to one day achieve social mobility while also maintaining the social order, politically progressive teacher education programs at different times critique, reduce and romanticize their candidates’ future work. How do these young educators reconcile such contradictions in their formation of professional identity over the course of the certification process? In the paper, I use teacher candidates’ perspectives to show how these educators experience U.S. university-based TE’s ongoing detachment from the institutional realities of public schools (e.g., Klein et al., 2013; Hammerness & Matsko, 2013). Moreover, I discuss the implications of TE’s neoliberal saturation for teacher candidates who need little help seeing the deep and glaring problems of the system they seek to work for, but see few options for critical practice.