Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

He, Ming Fang

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

William Schubert


Using critical theory (Horkheimer, 1930/1989; Marcuse, 1937/1989; Freire, 1970/2007; Adorno, 1975/1989; Habermas, 1981/1989; Bronner & Kellner, 1989; Apple, 1995; Kanapol, 1999; Ayers, 2004) and critical disability studies (Kaplan, 1999; Rogers & Swadener, 2001; Barnes, Oliver & Barton, 2002; Thomas, 2002; Allan, 2006; Britton, Floyd & Murphy, 2006; Burch & Sutherland, 2006; Danforth, 2006; Davis, 2006; Ferri, 2006; Gallagher, 2006; Rice, 2006; Shakespeare, 2006; Solis & Connor, 2006; Tregaskis, 2006; Goodley, 2007; Heyer, 2007; Siebers, 2008) as the theoretical framework and composite/compression narrative (He, 2003; Rosenstone, 2003; Mikell, 2011; also see Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), teacher stories (Witherell & Noddings, 1991; Jalongo & Isenberg, 1995)/teacher lore (Schubert & Ayers, 1999), auto/biography (Pinar & Grumet, 1976; Pinar & Grumet, 1981; Grumet, 1988; Bateson, 1989; Britzman, 1991; Graham, 1991; Schrader; 2004; Miller, 2005; Warren, 2005; Freeman, 2007; Haynes, 2007; Casemore, 2008; Morris, 2008; Mitchell, 2009; Roberts, 2009; Peebles, 2011), and fiction (He, 2003; Haynes, 2007; Barone, 2008; Mitchell, 2009; Mikell, 2011) as my methodology, I delved into the literature on White female teachers teaching students of color such as White Teacher (Paley, 1979), Of Borders and Dreams (Carger, 1996), A White Teacher Talks about Race (Landsman, 2001), Talking Race in the Classroom, (Bolgatz, 2005) and Dreams Deferred (Carger, 2009), and there are more that were written by white males, such as We Can't Teach What We Don't Know (Howard, 2006), Holler If You Can Hear Me (Michie, 1999), Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way (Schultz, 2008), Walking the Color Line (Perry, 2000), and Making Meaning of Whiteness (McIntyre, 1997). I critically reflected upon who I was and how I became who I am as a middle class white female special education teacher working with students of of color in rural Georgia. Part of the challenges of this inquiry was to recognize the lies I had been told throughout my life, to examine and challenge my own White privilege and racial beliefs, to become critically aware of how those lies, privileges, and racial beliefs affected the ways I worked with students of color in rural Georgia, to transgress deficit-oriented and standardized school curriculum, and to develop a culturally responsive and challenging pedagogy that brings the highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996) in all. There are five major ideas that have emerged from my research. Critically reflecting upon one's personal and professional experiences and examining one's values, beliefs, and privileges help develop empathy and compassion toward students with differences, which is the first, perhaps the most important step, to become a culturally responsive teacher in a predominantly White and rural area in the United States. Critical reflection and self-examination enables one to think, to question, to look beyond the habitual and the mundane, and to see possibilities. Transgressing deficit-oriented and standardized school curriculum that labels and standardizes students, imprisons their minds, and sabotages their potential, helps develop a culturally responsive pedagogy that recognizes students' strengths and challenges and creates hopes and dreams so that all students are able to thrive. Recognizing and confronting White privilege and racism involve risk-taking and evoke emotions that lead to vulnerability and resistance. To cultivate cultural awareness and critical consciousness of teachers, we not only need to continually challenge our privileges and prejudices, but we also need to work with other teachers, students, parents, and other members of the school community to strategically and creatively educate policy makers and administrators to create a curriculum of equal opportunities for all students.