Term of Award

Fall 2008

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

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

William Ayers

Abstract

This is an inquiry that utilizes personal ' passionate ' participatory research (He & Phillion, 2008) to delve into the conflicting experiences encountered by science educators as they teach in the predominantly Christian environment of the rural South. Science standards require teachers to instruct students about scientific concepts that directly contradict theological ideology. Veteran and new teachers alike skate the edges of the chasm that separate science and religion in the performance of their job which is complicated by the homogeneity of the population. Church involvement is an integral part of this community. Christian churches anchor their respective communities providing support and guidance for members throughout all life events. The church family melds with the biological family to perpetuate the life cycle of salvation, hard work, and reward in heaven. Like many of my colleagues, I graduated from the same high school at which I teach. Returning to the same area or never leaving is a pattern that is often repeated by the students that we teach. It was the writings of Watkins (2001), Freire (2004) and Wink (2005) that began my critical examination of my own education and that which I was imposing upon my students. Issues of class and gender surfaced as I scrutinized my community and reflected on my own life. My world is one that idealizes antiintellectualism as described by Hofstadter (1964). The work of He (1998, 2003) and He & Phillion (2008) was instrumental in illustrating the power of the fictionalized narrative in conveying the lived experience. I used a series of narratives to convey the perspectives that are present in the science classrooms and in the individuals of the community. My insider status provided me with the means to conduct this study using autobiographical reflection. Each of the characters in the narratives represents a composite of individuals. The data used to design the composite characters was obtained by observation of the students, teachers, and general population of the community. The voice that you hear is mine as I attempt to depict life in this rural setting.

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