NJCIE 2021, Vol. 5(1), 104–106
Examining Teach for All: International Perspectives on a Growing Global Network
Edited by Thomas, M. A., Rauschenberger, E., & Crawford-Garrett, K., Routledge, 2020, 300 pp., $128 (hardback) ISBN 978-0-367- 33648-6, $39.16 (eBook) ISBN 978-0-429-33169-5
PhD Candidate, Deakin University/University teacher, University of Oulu
Received 01 February 2021; accepted 17 February 2021
In Examining teach for all: International perspectives on a growing global network, the editors Thomas, Rauschenberger and Crawford-Garrett have compiled theoretically informed empirical research on the Teach for All (TFAll) network from a variety of contexts. TFAll is a non-profit organization which has established affiliates in more than 50 countries. The TFAll model recruits high-performing graduates and places them as short-term teachers in under-resourced schools with the goal of eliminating educational inequity. While the general tone of the book is critical towards TFAll’s neoliberal approach, the editor’s note that there is a ‘potential for the network to be a critical, reflective voice that challenges its own assumptions, but the question remains whether this is true to its intents’ (p. 272). On the whole, this book provides the reader with the opportunity to engage with research on the multiple iterations of the TFAll network and its implications on teaching, teacher education, educational policies and reform.
As an early career doctoral researcher interested in the expansion of the TFAll network in the Global South, I found this book to be an extremely useful read and would gladly recommend it to others interested in learning more about the empirical work done on the TFAll network. The book’s general style and organization is quite clear, and most chapters were relatively easy to follow. The 14 chapters in the book are organized into five parts. Part I written by the editors, outlines the history of TFAll’s predecessors - Teach for America and Teach First UK; specific global events such as philanthrocapitalism which have impacted the growth of TFAll; an updated review of literature as well as questions to consider for further research (chapters 1-3). Part II of the book highlights the tensions between the global and the local and how this manifests in the local TFAll chapters in contexts as varied as Norway, South Africa, UK and Lebanon (chapters 4-6). Part III, the longest section of the book, presents examples of popularly used methods of network approaches (e.g. network ethnography) and policy analysis on TFAll literature (chapters 7-11). Part IV focuses on teachers’ and school leaders’ perceptions of being part of the network in different countries. It also addresses TFAll’s leadership ideology and sheds light on its rationale for advocating a particular kind of leadership to solve educational problems (chapters 11-13). It is important to mention that each of the chapters in Part II-IV have been informed by robust theoretical frames (e.g., Foucauldian theory, complexity theory). Finally, in Part V, the editors problematize the findings from earlier chapters and leave the reader with important questions to reflect on and consider for further research on the TFAll network. The book ends by inviting researchers, especially doctoral students, to conduct further inquiry on some of the lesser-known contexts where TFAll has expanded. This further inquiry will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the network and its impact on teaching and teacher education globally.
Readers in the Nordic countries might be particularly interested in Chapter 4 ‘The origin and adaption of Teach First Norway’ by Katrine Nesje. It is interesting to note how an organization governed by neoliberal logic could make its way into the Norwegian educational landscape, which primarily follows equity and social democracy principles. The author uses the framework of governance of higher education (p. 66) to highlight how public organizations (e.g., Educational authority in Oslo) negotiated funding with the private sector (Equinor, petroleum company) to create Teach First Norway. This TFAll affiliate adhered to the Norwegian educational norms in terms of teaching and learning but ultimately aimed to prepare candidates who Equinor could employ. Intriguingly, Teach First Norway is no longer listed as part of the TFAll network (p. 273), and there has been no explanation given in the chapter regarding this detail. This explanation could have been developed in the chapter to investigate whether the market model of TFAll is sustainable in an egalitarian education system such as Norway.
This book’s strength lies in its diversity of research contexts and the wide range of topics it covers. The chapters in Parts II-IV are balanced in terms of research done on the micro (e.g., teachers – Chapter 10, 11), meso (e.g., organizational leaders - Chapter 4, 12) and macro (e.g., TFAll/affiliate – Chapter 8, 13) scales. While this book aims to add to the scarce literature available on the network, the book could be strengthened further by including a chapter about TFAll affiliates in Central and South America. A section focusing on the perspectives of students, parents and other stakeholders would also be welcomed. As a reader, I wonder if there is non-promotional research on the positive influence of TFAll in any context.
To conclude, this research volume on the TFAll network is a welcome addition to the TFAll literature considering the obstacles faced by researchers exploring this organization and its unparalleled growth (e.g., limited public data, gatekeepers of the organization). The editors and the contributing authors of this volume have raised several pertinent questions and pointed out the similarities that exist between TFAll affiliates despite the organizations’ claims to foreground local needs and priorities. This book could serve as a critical empirical resource for both researchers and practitioners engaging with new actors like TFAll in the global educational landscape.