Theses Doctoral

Sparking Courageous Conversations: Exploring the Racial-justice Curriculum Development and Instructional Processes of Teachers for Predominantly White Middle-school Students

Cherry-Paul, Sonja

Drawing on practitioner-research and case study methods, including interview protocols, this study aimed to explore the insights and experiences, as described by four teachers, of developing and teaching racial-justice curriculum for predominantly White 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in their course: Sparking Courageous Conversations: Discussing Race and Racism. This study was framed in critical literacy theories that are grounded in the work of Freire (2000) but draw on the work of contemporary critical scholars and practitioners with the knowledge that critical literacy pedagogy can provide a powerful means for interrogating how larger structures, texts, individuals, and groups are constructed.
Data collection took place in four phases across three months. Primary data sources included analysis of: curriculum and emerging curricular artifacts, in-depth interviews, surveys, teacher journals, researcher journal, and memos.
The findings of this study emerged from the curriculum development that occurred the summer prior to the 2017-2018 academic school year as well as the teaching that occurred that year. The reflections of each of the teachers about their development and teaching of the racial-justice curriculum demonstrated the breakthroughs and boundaries of teaching about race and racism with predominantly White middle-school students. Further, their reflections illustrated the ongoing, internal work required to facilitate conversations about race with students more effectively. Such work included monitoring for how race affected their lives as well as the lives of others, and how race as one of their identities affected the ways in which they developed and taught curriculum. Finally, the teachers discovered that facilitating courses on race required moving from a content-based approach to a consciousness-based approach where they each, alongside of their students, assumed a researching-the-world stance to learn about race and confront and challenge racism.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Calkins, Lucy
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2019