Term of Award

Fall 2009

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Dan Chapman

Committee Member 3

Lyndall Muschell

Committee Member 3 Email



This study was to explore the use of critical literacy (Freire, 1998) to assist predominately White teacher candidates in their preparation to teach diverse groups of students. Seven White females, who were born and reared in Georgia, participated in the study. These participants were encouraged to critically examine their personal, racial, and cultural roots through autobiographical papers, literature circles using African American children's books, critical reflective papers responding to the literature circles, conversations, and interviews. Three bodies of research provided the theoretical framework for the study: White identity theory (Kunjufu, 2002, McIntyre, 1997, Wise, 2008), critical literacy theory (Freire, 1974, Freire & Macedo, 1987, Macedo & Steinberg, 2007, Vasquez, 2003, 2004), and culturally relevant pedagogy (Ayers, 2004, Delpit, 1995, Gay, 2000, hooks, 1994, Howard, 2006 ,Ladson-Billings, 1994). The study was conducted using two distinct strands of inquiry, narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) and personal̋~passionate̋~participatory inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008). Engaging in research that is personal̋~ passionate̋~ participatory creates possibilities for positive change in the researcher, participants, and ultimately in society. This form of inquiry allows researchers "to connect the practical with the theoretical, and the personal with the political, through passionate participation in, and critical reflection upon inquiry and life" (p. 3). Part of the challenge for this study was to confront the resistance to challenging Whiteness, to use literature circles to create a space for the hearts and minds to develop critical consciousness and cultural awareness, to transgress White supremacy, and to embrace multitudes of differences, contradictions, and complexities in schools, neighborhoods, and communities. This study has awakened me intellectually as I continue to live my life as a member of a racist society and a teacher educator in a predominately White College of Education. As the public school populations become increasingly diversified, the number of White teacher candidates continues to increase. As education within the South and beyond still perpetuates White privilege, relinquishing White supremacy and status quo is the prelude to cultivating cultural awareness in White teacher candidates. Teacher educators need to work with learners, teachers, parents, community workers, administrators, and policy makers to support and encourage a culturally relevant pedagogy and to create culturally responsive and inspiring learning environments to engage all learners in an increasingly diversified world.

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