Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in English Teaching: Practice & Critique 17:2 (2018), pp 116-131.

doi 10.1108/ETPC-05-2017-0079


Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited. Used by permission.


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ways in which attention to programmatic vision and coherence – rather than foci on individual courses – might advance the work of justice-oriented, critical English education in important ways. The authors propose that consciously attending to the work of English education on the programmatic level can better enable English educators to cultivate democracy-sustaining dispositions in preservice teachers. Using Grossman et al.’s (2008) definition of “programmatic coherence”, the authors illustrate how one interdepartmental partnership is working to create a shared programmatic vision for English education.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on Cornel West’s call for the development of a three-piece democratic armor – Socratic questioning, prophetic witness and tragicomic hope – the authors describe their programmatic vision for cultivating democracy-sustaining dispositions in preservice teachers. They show how this shared vision constitutes the foundation for the organization, purpose and sequence of the four-semester cohort program. Finally, the authors describe how this vision helps facilitate meaningful and purposeful symbiosis between field experiences and university coursework.

Findings – In an effort to promote replicability regarding programmatic coherence, the authors share structural aspects of their program as well as pose

generative questions for colleagues who are interested in approaching the work of critical, democratic English education from the programmatic level.

Originality/value – Addressing the challenges of teacher preparation – especially in this polarized and pitched historical moment – requires shifting the focus from individual courses to a more expansive view that might enable English educators to consider how courses within a program might collectively advance a particular vision of critical and democratic English education.