Establishing Asset Thinking With Preservice Teachers: Community-Engaged Learning With Young Children From Public Housing

Establishing Asset Thinking With Preservice Teachers: Community-Engaged Learning With Young Children From Public Housing

Christopher Meidl (Duquesne University, USA), Xia Chao (Duquesne University, USA) and Anne Marie FitzGerald (Duquesne University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4041-0.ch014

Abstract

This chapter explores how deficit and asset thinking of preservice teachers is influenced when they are provided with community-engaged learning (CEL) that prepares them to serve children and families from a marginalized community. Twenty-seven early childhood education preservice teachers participated in CEL at a local HUD neighborhood as part of a junior level course called Families, Schools, and Communities. Narrative inquiry guided the methodological framework to analyze data from course assignments including weekly Exit Slips and student reflections from the actual CEL experience. From those data sources, several themes emerged in relation to asset thinking, deficit think, and pedagogical approaches to learning about marginalized communities using CEL. Students recognized asset thinking in a variety of ways, but also were stuck using deficit thinking to judge the community's utility of a childcare event.
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Background

The Housing Authority of the City of Goldville (HACG) (pseudonym) sought a partnership anchored in early-childhood development and cross-university community-engagement meant to develop a sustainable and successful approach to working with Zinc Townhomes stakeholders. Zinc Townhomes is a low-income public housing community operated by the Housing Authority of the City of Goldville (HACG); 650 residents (infants to elderly) make their homes within the 400 units of the Zinc Townhomes complex. The average household income is $9,300. The racial composition of the community is 97% African-American, 2% White, and 1% Asian/other. A quick analysis of the community indicates a significant portion of the population is low-income, single mothers with 18% of the population being children who could benefit from early childhood programming. Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC, 2015) found that “a specific focus on early childhood is absent from community development planning in the Mercury Neighborhood” (p. 7). The report argues for a “community-driven strategy” to support early care and education within the Mercury Neighborhood.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Community-Engaged Learning: Learning set in the community aimed at reciprocally benefitting individuals in both universities/organizations and neighborhoods/communities.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: An approach to teaching and learning that acknowledged, validates, and builds on knowledge and skills coming from a students’ sociocultural, racial, and ethnic background.

Deficit Thinking: Viewing a sociocultural and environmental context with a lens that judges the context in weaknesses or what is missing.

Asset Thinking: Viewing a sociocultural and environmental context with a lens that identifies strengths.

Gestalts: When preservice or inservice teachers revert back to past beliefs about values, identity, expectations, and other social constructs despite being taught to suspend those beliefs to learn about other people and cultures.

Transformative Learning: Learning that alters how individuals think and interact in the world.

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