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Hobbs at ATEE in Florence, Italy

Renee Hobbs is thrilled to offer a keynote address at the Association for Teacher Education in Europe (ATEE) Spring Conference 2020 in Florence on May 20 - 22, 2020. The conference theme is “Social justice, media and technology in teacher education.” 

Exploring Controversial Issues in the Classroom 

Keynote Address by Renee Hobbs

Educators are themselves citizens who express and share political views as part of their personal identity. They may care deeply about issues including climate change, immigration/migration, growing economic inequality, health and wellness, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, or other topics of concern. But in the classroom, some educators do not feel confident or comfortable exploring controversial issues with students, while others make clear their particular positions on political issues without necessarily reflecting on the inequality in power relationships that may silence their students. The practice of critical analysis and reflection help teachers navigate the both the opportunities and the challenges of exploring contemporary controversies in the classroom. Teachers benefit greatly from safe and structured opportunities to talk about the ethical and moral implications of their decisions to address or ignore controversial issues in the classroom


The Florence Spring ATEE Conference will take a critical perspective, even from a social and historical point of view, on the role of digital technology and media in teacher education by framing the relationship between technology/media and education in the light of the ever-increasing social inequalities. From this standpoint the Conference will focus on the new challenges and growing demands on education system committed to addressing all forms of disparities in access, participation and learning outcomes, social exclusion and discrimination. A critical approach to the understanding of the implications of technological developments for education is particularly significant in a world dominated by algorithms that are increasingly controlling and regulating the extent to which people do or do not participate in the social life. The central focus of this conference is the relevance of these critical perspectives and approaches in the field of teacher education’s research and practice.

  • Teaching critical media/digital literacy in multicultural societies. Research on media and digital literacy has emphasised the potential of education to foster the critical understanding of the relationships between media, information and power, particularly referring to the media (mis)representation of – and the (online) hate speech against – historically marginalized communities, as well as to the underlying ideologies that naturalise – or question – discrimination and social injustice in the wider society. To what extent – and how – teacher training and education may reflect and incorporate critical media/digital literacy to prepare teachers to teach in multicultural contexts?
  • Decommodifying teacher (digital) education. Many practices and discourses of “digital education” nourish a wider process of reconfiguration of education into a commodity state, which strongly contrasts with the notion of education as a collective public good. Technology giants are reshaping the very nature of schooling on a vast scale. Through their philanthropic presence in schools, they are influencing the subjects teachers teach, the tools they use, and the learning models they adopt. How can teacher education and training about educational technology and/or media literacy critically approach the commodification of school education?
  • Digital technology and equity for inclusive teaching. Developments in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) do not necessarily correspond to an increase of access, participation and learning. Data on the impact of ICT on social inclusion in a large sense are still controversial. However, some positive results have been found on the use of digital technologies to design inclusive teaching, especially when it is combined with approaches to design inspired by principles such as Universal Design for Learning. How to prepare future and in-service teachers to design digital inclusive teaching? What impact may teacher education about digital technology have on teachers’ capacity to design learning for all?