Local and international perspectives on teacher education have highlighted the shortcomings of institutions in preparing teachers for the growing race and ethnocultural diversity in their schools and communities. Massive racial exclusiveness and inequalities continue to exist in teacher preparation programs and the ways graduates work with racialized minorities in the school system at large.
This research project conducted in a large urban Ontario university in 1998-99, explored teacher candidates' racial identities and the way these impact the process of learning to teach. In addition, the study analyses how candidates responded to the theory and practice of race, racism and antiracism in their scholarship, and the development of attitudes, knowledge and practices that prepare them to work for equity and social justice.
The findings of the study indicate that candidates initially possess limited knowledge, and interpersonal skills for working with diversity, but were willing to develop growth plans to achieve competence. Although some candidates were cognizant of the impact of racial difference in schools, others, mostly Whites, preferred to remain "raceless" and "colour-blind" and denied the presence of "White privilege" in Canadian society. While cross-race partnerships provided the opportunity for candidates of different racial backgrounds to share perspectives and experiences in a positive interdependent manner, factors such as own-group cleavages, and personal and institutional racism limited this learning opportunity.
The research concludes with recommendations for a better screening process for those entering teacher education and the field-based support staff working in practicum settings. More importantly, there is the urgent need for a more comprehensive antiracism curriculum in teacher education and teaching.