Can a Classroom Be a Family? Race, Space, and the Labour of Care in Urban Teaching

Kathleen Gallagher, Canadian Journal of Education, Jun 30, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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"Does the idea of 'family' as a pedagogical compass get a classroom more efficiently from one idea to another, or safely through the sometimes turbulent seawaters and challenging relationships of an urban classroom?" asks  Kathleen Gallagher. "I arrive ultimately at a qualified yes," she writes. "For better and for worse, the logic of the family and the 'bond of obligation' in the classroom holds us to account and serves to raise the stakes on classroom relations and possibly widen compassion for human frailty." This is a lot to draw from a single case, but I get the fact that Gallagher is trying out an analytic strategy linking broader theoretical themes with specific practice. The family analogy, though, doesn't resonate with me. There are many different conceptions of family, and many different experiences of family. The term is being used here as a vague catch-all to describe an atmosphere of caring. In this particular case, it works. In many cases, it would not. See more articles from the special issue of CJE on Reflecting Canadian Diversity.

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