Growing social justice educators : how do we improve our practice as social justice educators?
In this study I am aiming to improve my practice as a Social Justice Educator of educator-students, basing my methodology primarily on Jean McNiff's (2002) approach to self-reflective action-research. The self-reflective action-research requirements mean that the study is necessarily an iterative process. I construct tools from within my praxis that has informed my work as a social justice educator. I apply these tools to the work of students (that has been informed by my praxis) to evaluate how well this same praxis lives up to its purpose. Through the same process I seek to improve the tools with which to better frame and name the praxis, for its improvement. From my own and collective writing, working, learning and reading experiences I have aimed to do this by constructing a Trajectory Model describing an understanding of social justice education to apply to the Self-Reflective Action-Research (SR-AR) Reports of our Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) students. I use this process to draw conclusions about the Trajectory Model and indications of social justice educator practice. The Trajectory Model - containing the Critical Elements for indicating social justice education-praxis - is the model I construct for and in this research - for use in our ongoing developmental praxis as social justice educators. The Trajectory Model, for social justice education, is constructed - and hence understood through - a series of layered models of informing concepts and theories. The Trajectory Model is my attempt to describe the standing; yearning-imagining-dreaming; gazing; seeing; thinking-naming and framing; and doing subjective being for social justice - in a way that is communicable and usable to articulate indicators of what I - in this contextual space, time and community of practice - understand to be critical in being a social justice educator 1. The trajectory Model discussion focuses particularly on three Critical Elements: Position and Stance; Indigenous Knowledge Construction; and Agency and Praxis. They are to be 'read' as being embedded within 'imagination and yearning' for a socially just, non-oppressive society - and they all imply self-reflexivity as an integral aspect of their existence. Thus while there are six numbered elements or aspects in the Trajectory Model, it is the three 'intersecting circles' (of the model diagram) that I name to be the central or Critical Elements - the other three being contextualising or 'embedding' 'aspects' rather than 'elements'. Through this process I came to the following primary conclusions: The method of researching the reports was inadequate for the purpose of drawing any but the most tentative conclusions about growth of social justice practice from the work contained in the reports. However, they proved of some value in students' self-reflections on their own social justice praxis. Through the process of engagement and analysis, indications emerged that the constructed tools have value for the purpose of facilitating analysis and articulation of social justice educator praxis through the provision of a conceptual structure to name and frame the work. This has beneficial implications for social justice educator pedagogical development with regard to both praxis and research possibilities for our community of practice as social justice educators at UKZN in the future. The self-reflexivity and collective engagement of the research process in this study has helped to strengthen my practice as an educator of social justice educators, primarily through improving definition and mapping of critical elements in educating for social justice, as I understand it, in relation to current understandings and practiecs in the literature. 1. The discussion in the Introduction to this study, on the reason for using an alternative set of words to the "dreaming, seeing, being" terminology, pertains.