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Researchers Propose Theoretical Model to Embed Social Justice in Classroom Practices, Teacher Preparation

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A recent Journal of Teacher Education article proposes a new model to integrate social justice with the concept of pedagogical content knowledge. In “Foregrounding Equity in Teacher Education: Toward a Model of Social Justice Pedagogical and Content Knowledge,” authors Jeanne Dyches of Iowa State University and Ashley Boyd of Washington State University lay out the theoretical model they call Social Justice Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, or SJPACK. A recent podcast interview with the authors for the JTE Insider blog sheds light on the model.

In the interview, the authors explain that since Lee Shulman’s concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) was introduced in the 1980s, it has thoroughly permeated teacher preparation, but it does not explicitly link PCK to equity concerns. They wanted to tease out the different ways this would look in different disciplines.

“PCK practices are always political,” Dyches said, but the literature around PCK in the disciplines does not explore this reality, making it hard to provide appropriate readings to preservice teachers in the area.

“We need a model for that,” Boyd added. “Rather than these broad [theories], we wanted more discipline-specific” guidance to share with teacher candidates.

“The critical content piece […] is maybe the biggest contribution of the framework,” Boyd said. Even so, due to length limitations, “we couldn’t go into the depth we wanted.”

Next the authors are identifying empirical data supporting each area of SJPACK. They also are looking at what critical content knowledge social justice teachers bring into their classrooms and implications for teacher preparation.

The article is summarized in the following abstract:

Since its inception 30 years ago, Shulman’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) has fundamentally altered the landscape of teacher preparation. Despite its prominence in the field, the paradigm fails to delineate a space for the role of social justice in classroom practices and teacher preparation. Accordingly, we complicate the relationship between PCK and equitable teaching practices by forwarding Social Justice Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (SJPACK), a theoretical model segmented into three knowledge domains: Social Justice Knowledge, Social Justice Pedagogical Knowledge, and Social Justice Content Knowledge. Because all instructional maneuvers are politically charged and therefore never neutral, SJPACK advances Social Justice Knowledge as the foundational knowledge domain that permeates and shapes all PCK practices. Consequently, the framework posits that PCK can never be siloed from Social Justice Knowledge. Implications for SJPACK-oriented teacher preparation are discussed.

Listen to the podcast interview here, and read the article here. (Remember, AACTE members can access the article free if they log in on AACTE’s website first. Just click the blue button on this page.)

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