Theses Doctoral

In pursuit of healing-centered education: a case study of a racial literacy and healing professional development workshop series

Acosta, Angela

In an attempt to tackle issues of racism in the U.S. public education system, school districts throughout the country are paying particular attention to how teachers and educational leaders are trained and supported to address issues of racial disparities. As a result of this, there has been a diffusion of various anti-bias and racial literacy-based trainings in some of the largest school systems. This dissertation explored a case study of a unique racial literacy and healing professional development (PD) workshop series within the New York City Department of Education, which was offered to a group composed predominantly of educators of Color. This inquiry was primarily concerned with how the educator of the PD workshop series designed and enacted a healing-centered pedagogy and what were the affordances of such an approach. A number of qualitative research methods—including contemplative inquiry—worked together to understand how this professional learning experience enabled participants to engage in a healing praxis. The PD curriculum structured opportunities for participants to deploy a two-pronged healing praxis, which combined racial literacy and critical consciousness on one side, and healing and self-care on the other. Through the combination of a transformative activist stance, a healing-centered engagement, and an indigenist stance, this study drew on a unique conceptual framework to examine how the PD series enabled participants to: (a) surface feelings of racialized stress and trauma; (b) potentiate their own healing journey; (c) articulate gratitude and cultivate empathy; and (d) explore conflict and cultural fault lines. This work finds a home in the coming wave of scholarship and a canon that considers healing within the context of education as an urgent matter.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Oyler, Celia
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2020