Term of Award

Fall 2004

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

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

Gregory Dmitriyev

Committee Member 2

David Alley

Abstract

This research is concerned with the cultural responsiveness of the education young Mexicana English language learners receive in a middle school in the rural southeastern region of Georgia. As the enrollment of Mexican immigrant students rises in the schools of this region, teachers untrained in cultural responsive or cultural relevant pedagogical practices find themselves faced with teaching a new population of students whose cultural backgrounds and personal experiences are very different from their own. Through a feminist narrative research agenda, I conducted life history narrative (Casey, 1993) interviews of three Mexicana ELLs in an attempt to answer the following guiding research question: How would life history narratives of English language learners (ELLs) illuminate the cultural responsiveness of their education? Through data analysis, I revealed answers to additional questions relating to the educational situation in which ELLs in South Georgia find themselves. Are the pedagogical practices of teachers of ELLs in Pierce County indicative of “culturally-relevant” (Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1998) teaching? Is the curriculum in place “culturally responsive” to their educational needs? What aspects of a culturally responsive education are currently in place and what are missing? How might the educational programs of English language learners be modified 2 in order to meet their cultural needs and provide them the academic skills needed to adjust and thrive in US American society? The three stories presented in this research project share four common themes: the influence of family and migration to each female, the significance of each participant’s Mexican heritage culture and home language in her life, the fearful immersion to U.S. culture and schools and subsequent cultivation of new relationships, and the role of education in each girl’s life. In exploring the major ideas of the narratives, I reflect upon my own personal experiences as a member of the white cultural group within the local community, faculty member of the research site, and second language teacher documenting personal connections which might illuminate further how the education of ELLs can be realized in similar southern rural schools.

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