Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

William Reynolds

Committee Member 1

Saundra Nettles

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

Audrey Watkins

Abstract

In the era of standardization, how can educators explore ways to hear the beating hearts of the students they encounter? How can educators recognize the multitudinous sounds of the students when each marches to the beat of a different drum? With these questions in mind, how then can educators affect change in the classroom to cultivate critical thinkers when the curriculum is not designed to feed each students own educational diet? There is not one magical quick fix, and I have come to realize that there has been and continued to be a cacophony of voices debating what should be the primary goal of education, what should be taught, how teaching should be done, and who should decide. From these debates evolved distinct versions of curricular philosophies or orientations. During my studies, I have found that to move beyond the complacency in the classroom, teaching curriculum must be an understanding, a conversation. This extraordinarily complicated conversation (Pinar et. al., 2002, p. 848) between teachers and students across texts allows us to study historically and theoretically as we examine issues of race, class, gender, and politics through multiple lenses. Attempting to create meaning in the lives of students, this type of education, of understanding, empowers students through their own voices about their lived experiences. One way to create meaning and encourage investigation is to promote a curriculum that engages students, one that uses their own language, their own culture. This study then explores how African-American womens literature can be used to encourage culturally richer classrooms as students, especially African-American girls, discover who they are. I look through the lens of Black Feminist theory because it affords me the opportunity to amplify issues of race, gender, and class, particularly as these aspects relate to African-American girls and other minority groups in mainstream schooling. Through this lens, I use a literary analysis to explore general and specific issues or themes of identity and subjectivity in the novels and works about and by Black female writers. This study helps us in understanding self and otherness. Instead of ridiculing others who are different, people can move to feeling comfortable about differences and sharing power with others. INDEX WORDS: Literature, African-American Women, Black Feminist Theory

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