Term of Award

Summer 2011

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

William Schubert

Abstract

Drawing upon the work on reflective practice (Schön's 1983, 1987), critical reflection (McLaurin, 1987/1998), and critical autobiography (Paley, 1979), this study explores the experience of four White female teachers teaching predominantly Black students in a rural Southern school district. As these White female teachers recalled, relived, and reflected on their own lived experiences with race (McIntyre, 1997), they were encouraged to examine and challenge their own White privilege and racial beliefs and become more consciously aware of how these ideas affected their pedagogical decisions. The study is grounded in three bodies of research: race as a social and cultural construct (Aho, 1999; Jordan, 1974; Omi & Winant, 2005; Quist-Adade, 2005; Takaki, 1993; Watkins, 2001; Williamson, 1984), critical White studies (Jensen, 2005; Landsman, 2005; McIntyre, 1997; McLaren, 1998; Rains, 1998; Smith, 1949/1994, 1955/2004; Sullivan, 2006; Tatum, 1997; Titone, 1998; Williams, 1997), and culturally relevant pedagogy (Ayers, 2004; Delpit, 1995; Gay, 2000; Howard, 2006; Kunjufu, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 2009; Tatum, 1997). Methodologically, the study draws upon the work of narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) and personal~passionate~participatory inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008), which invigorates the potential for both researcher and participants to come to new 2 understandings and potentially lead all involved to new levels of critical consciousness and transformational change. Six findings have emerged from the research. To be a critical educator for positive educational and social change, one has to continually challenge racism and White privilege. Discussing race and Whiteness with White teachers is difficult and requires honesty and a nonjudgmental environment. In order for White teachers to become more culturally aware and critically conscious, they must begin by challenging their own Whiteness and understanding their own identities. Autobiographical writing and reflection, as a tool, has the potential to challenge issues of race and White privilege but must move beyond only the telling of a story. Practicing teachers need to experience dialogue and writing that challenges their thinking. To cultivate cultural awareness and critical consciousness of teachers, we not only need to continually work with teachers, but also need to strategically and creatively educate policy makers and administrators, and work with students and parents and other members of the school community to create a curriculum of equitable opportunities for all.

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