Q&A with Professor Christopher Martell, Editor of “Social Studies Teacher Education: Critical Issues and Current Perspectives”

Dr. Christopher Martell, clinical assistant professor at the School of Education and program director of the school’s Social Studies Education program, is the editor of the recently published book Social Studies Teacher Education: Critical Issues and Current Perspectives.

The book is part of a scholarly series entitled “Research in Social Education,” a long-running series published by Information Age Publishing, that aims to collect and present valuable educational research to social studies teachers and teacher educators.

Dr. Martell recently spoke about the new book, sharing insights into his goals and creative process as curator of his new collection.

Where did the idea to edit a book focusing on Social Studies teacher education come from?

Brad Maguth and Merry Merryfield recruited me to edit a book in their Research in Social Education series, which already included works edited by distinguished social studies researchers like Gloria Ladson-Billings, Walter Parker, Keith Barton, and Susan Adler. When they asked me about a possible topic, I immediately gravitated toward a book on social studies teacher education. Teaching social studies teachers is what I love to do. I saw that there was a real need for a book that examined the research on social studies teacher education and then offered practical guidance for social studies teacher educators based on that work.

You spent over a decade as a classroom teacher here in Massachusetts. How did your own teacher education help shape your editorial direction in this book?

When I was in my first year as a high school social studies teacher, I kept hearing my methods professor – Bob Maloy at UMass Amherst – in the back of my mind. Whenever I was planning lessons or managing the classroom, Bob’s words were there helping me become the teacher that I wanted to be, even after I’d left his classroom. It proved how vital teacher education was to being successful in the classroom. In many ways, Bob helped inspire me to become a teacher educator.

Another thing I picked up from my own teacher education was the idea that social studies classroom could focus on social justice and teachers could use inquiry to get students to grapple with important issues from the past and present. As both a classroom teacher and a teacher educator, I have centered my work on social justice and inquiry-based teaching. These two concepts are at the core of my new book.

That’s a great point. Social justice is a theme that our students find in your courses and in the Social Studies Education program in general. Is there a relationship between the importance you place on social justice as a teacher educator, and the creation of this book?

Thinking about my own work as a social studies methods professor here at BU, I knew that the chapters needed to be current and relevant. I started editing this book during the 2016 presidential campaign and that was certainly on my mind. I was also thinking about the many recent current events related to increasing racial inequity and the high-profile police killings of unarmed Black and Brown people, the persistence of global terrorism, a large-scale refugee crisis, and the increasingly negative impacts of global warming on our Earth. I hope this book that can help social studies teacher educators prepare the next generation of teachers who will have to address these global challenges in their classrooms, but also help teachers to develop students into thoughtful citizens and the leaders of our future world.

You’re also active as an educational researcher here at Boston University. How does this book work to help teacher educators—especially those who share your same emphasis on social justice and inquiry—better understand and apply current research when training future social studies educators?

Two questions drove this book project: What can the research tell us about preparing and developing social studies teachers for an increasingly complex, interconnected, and rapidly changing world? How can we educate social studies teachers to “teach against the grain,” centering their work on social justice, social change, and social responsibility?

I was fortunate to assemble an “all-star cast” of early- and mid-career scholars in the field of social studies teacher education to write chapters on such important topics as race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration, religion, disciplinary literacy, global civics, and social justice. Each chapter includes a review of the current research and recommends specific research-based guidelines from improving teacher education practices. Moreover, the main themes of social justice and inquiry are intentionally embedded across each of the chapters in the book with each other conceptualizing what that means related to their particular topic.

Social Studies Teacher Education: Critical Issues and Current Perspectives is available from Information Age Publishing. A summary of chapter subjects and authors appears below.

Introduction: Social Studies Teacher Education: Problems and Possibilities, Christopher C. Martell (Boston University)

Critical Social Studies Knowledge and Practice: Preparing Social Justice Oriented Social Studies Teachers in the Trump Era, Lisa Sibbett (University of Washington, Seattle) and Wayne Au (University of Washington, Bothell)

Preparing Social Studies Teachers for the Challenges and Opportunities of Disciplinary Literacy Instruction in a Changing World, Tamara L. Shreiner (Grand Valley State University)

Transforming Social Studies Teacher Education for Global Citizenship Education, Mark C. Baildon (National Institute of Education Singapore) and Theresa Alviar-Martin (Kennesaw State University)

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Race Talk, Racial Blunders, and Redemption, Ashley N. Woodson (University of Missouri – Columbia) and Kristen E. Duncan (Texas State University)

Toward a Gender Inclusive Vision for Powerful and Authentic Social Studies, Kathryn E. Engebretson (Indiana University).

Where Is the Queerness in Social Studies Teacher Education? J. B. Mayo, Jr. (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

Immigration and Social Studies Teacher Education, Jeremy Hilburn (University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Critical Considerations in Teaching About the Muslim-Other in Social Studies Teacher Education, Natasha Hakimali Merchant (University of North Georgia)

Ending the Silence About the Earth in Social Studies Teacher Education, Mark T. Kissling (Penn State University), Jonathan T. Bell (Penn State University), Ana Carolina Díaz Beltrán (Penn State University), and Jennifer Lane Myler (Penn State University)

Epilogue: Social Studies Teacher Education: Future Directions, Christopher C. Martell (Boston University)