Theses Doctoral

Realizing Wokeness -- White Schools, White Ignorance: Toward a Racially Responsive Pedagogy

Buck, Brandon J.

The purpose of this research is to construct a comprehensive, analytic framework to clarify the construct of white ignorance and then illustrate how the framework can be applied to education research, theory and practice.

To develop the framework, I consolidate and synthesize the extant literature around white ignorance, delineating a typology and conceptual vocabulary for the three core elements of the construct: 1) doxastic white ignorance, 2) active white ignorance, and 3) meta-white ignorance.

Then, I show its application. First, I illustrate how researchers can use the framework to guide investigation into the ways that mostly white schools operate to reproduce and sustain white ignorance. Next, I illustrate how teachers can use the framework to combat and undermine the proliferation of white ignorance in their school and classroom. Toward that end, I develop a conception of wokeness, conceived not as the absence of ignorance but as the recognition of one’s own ignorance and the capacity to neutralize its effect on one’s judgment.

Finally, I show how teacher educators can use the framework to transform the way we prepare teachers for social justice education. Ultimately, my project conceptualizes an approach called "racially responsive pedagogy," which serves to formalize a common diagnostic and pedagogical methodology between culturally responsive/sustaining pedagogies and anti-white ignorance pedagogies.

In mostly nonwhite schools, white supremacist patterns of practice promote subtractive schooling and cultural erasure. In response, culturally responsive/sustaining pedagogies are warranted to reincorporate indigenous epistemologies back into the classroom. In mostly white schools, it’s the inverse. White supremacist patterns of practice promote white ignorance, which educators should work to resist and exclude.

A racially responsive pedagogy elevates racial analyses, inviting educators to decode white supremacist patterns of practice, so they can activate a response and confidently advance their social justice mission regardless of the context in which they teach.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Laverty, Megan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2020