Communicating for Diversity: Using Teacher Discussion Groups to Transform Multicultural Education

  • Published on
    10-Feb-2017

  • View
    214

  • Download
    2

Transcript

  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Newcastle (Australia)]On: 04 October 2014, At: 15:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    The Social StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vtss20

    Communicating for Diversity: Using Teacher DiscussionGroups to Transform Multicultural EducationDanielle M. De La Mareaa Communication and Visual Arts, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, USAPublished online: 19 Mar 2014.

    To cite this article: Danielle M. De La Mare (2014) Communicating for Diversity: Using Teacher Discussion Groups to TransformMulticultural Education, The Social Studies, 105:3, 138-144, DOI: 10.1080/00377996.2013.859118

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00377996.2013.859118

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use ofthe Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vtss20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/00377996.2013.859118http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00377996.2013.859118http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • The Social Studies (2014) 105, 138144Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0037-7996 print / 2152-405X onlineDOI: 10.1080/00377996.2013.859118

    Communicating for Diversity: Using Teacher DiscussionGroups to Transform Multicultural Education

    DANIELLE M. DE LA MARE

    Communication and Visual Arts, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, USA

    The author argues that in order to create space for authentic multicultural engagement in the face of Eurocentric norms, teachersshould form discussion groups that follow five basic guidelines: engage, dont enrage; be comfortable with negative emotion; watchfor and change unproductive language; talk about everything; and engage in classroom dialogue.

    Keywords: Critical Race Theory, Eurocentrism, multicultural education, dialogue

    Introduction

    Social scientific inquiry historically produced researchbased on the widely accepted notion that European cul-tures were more sophisticated and advanced than others.Contemporary social studies education grew out of thishistory, shaping curricula and pedagogies and often un-dermining multicultural education efforts (Stanfield 1985).But I show that teachers may breathe life into multicul-tural education by engaging with colleagues in meaning-ful dialogue. In this article I first demonstrate how Eu-rocentrism maintains its hold on social studies education.Second, I explain how teachers may carve out space formulticulturalism.

    Literature Review

    The Eurocentric assumptions embedded in early socialscientific research have profoundly shaped contemporarysocial studies education in at least two major waystheperspective from which social studies textbooks approachsocial phenomena and the institutional practices used bythe National Council of the Social Studies (NCSS). Both,as I show later, deeply affect multicultural education ef-forts. First, textbooks are written from the Eurocentricbasis on which the social sciences were found. Stanfield(1985) explains the approach used by authors of sociologytextbooks:

    Address correspondence to Danielle M. De La Mare, Univer-sity of Michigan-Flint, Communication and Visual Arts, 4116WilliamS.White Building, 303EastKearsley Street, Flint, 48502-1950, USA. E-mail: ddelamar@umflint.edu

    In sociology textbooks. . .the central, descriptive, norma-tive, chapters are based upon the sociological attributesof the white experience. Blacks are shunted off into thechapters on deviance, social problems, or race relations.The tendency of contemporary institutionalized social sci-ence to ignore or distort the attributes of Afro-Americanand other racial minority experiences buttresses Anglo-Saxon ethnocentric beliefs and the irrelevance of subor-dinate racial groups (409).

    Stanfield also explains that psychology similarly rep-resents White cultural and racial experiences as normal,standard, and correct. Moreover, in history textbooks, asLadson-Billings (2003) explains, . . . an incoherent, dis-jointed picture of those who are not White, contributesto the long-held social science belief that people of colorare relatively insignificant to the growth and developmentof our democracy and our nation . . . (4). In her analysisof social studies methods textbooks, written for preserviceteachers, Gay (2003) also describes text material to be vir-tually bleached as White concerns are centered and allothers are largely excluded.The second way Eurocentric assumptions embed them-

    selves in social studies education may be seen in NCSSsexclusionary practices. In numerous ways, the NCSS hasactively squelched engagement with issues important toAfricanAmerican, American Indian, AsianAmerican, andLatino experiences. Ladson-Billings (2003) describes howthe exclusion of non-White experiences andunderstandingsat NCSS conferences has been blatant and painful:

    For three years running, the organization held meetings incities serving large communities of color (Detroit, Wash-ington, DC, Cincinnati) and did almost nothing to engagethe larger community. Our meeting rooms and programswere so culturally exclusive it was stifling (6).

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Communicating for Diversity 139

    Although there was a Black Heritage Tour scheduledat the Cincinnati meeting, Ladson-Billings explains that itwas ultimately canceled because of lack of interest. Howapropos! she exclaims, recognizing the palpable hostilitytoward people of color at these events (6).Rains (2003) experiences at NCSS meetings have been

    similarly disconcerting. She tells of a presentation sheattended where she was the only Native person in . . . [a]standing-room-only crowded meeting room (221). There,the colonization efforts of what would become the WesternUnited States was presented to conference participantsfrom a Eurocentric perspectiveas Manifest Destinyand an exciting adventure. Knowing that Native per-spectives should be acknowledged in this presentation ofhistory, Rains mustered the courage . . . to question thegaps and quality of Native representation (22122). Herconcerns were promptly dismissed, however. In an effort tomove on with more important questions, Rains was toldthat the presenters would address her questions once thepresentation ended. It took me by surprise, she writes. Ihad not anticipated that at the biggest social studies con-ference, on the brink of the newmillennia, that there wouldbe such resistance to accuracy (222).Issues like these drove Ladson-Billings (2003) to discon-

    tinue her NCSS membership. She writes, I am sad to re-port that . . . social studies education remains . . . frozen inits old paradigms (5). She explains that NCSS does notmention issues of race and racism in its teaching standards,and in the 1990s, its committee on race and racism wasactually disbanded. Given this monocultural approach tosocial studies teaching, Gay (2003) insists that . . . socialstudies education in both teacher preparation and K12classroom instruction is not nearly as good as it can be andshould be (135).The organizing power of Eurocentrism has not only

    shaped social studies content generally, but multicul-tural education efforts have too been complicit in sus-taining Eurocentrism in the social studies. For example,single-group approaches to multicultural education, inwhich an identified group is studied deeply and compre-hensively, have been consistently criticized for relegatingthe studied group to curriculum ghettos of separatecourses or units, apart from established European-American curricula (Sleeter and Grant 1989). And theseseparate or add-on (Banks 2004) ethnic studies curricu-lar packages may inadvertently promote the stereotypingof the studied group (Kaomea 2005; Sleeter and Grant2003) as well as distort the groups unique cultural perspec-tives (Hermes 2005). For instance, Kaomea (2005) foundproblems with the ways Hawaiian Studies is implementedin Hawaii. In one example of problematic classroom prac-tice, she reports that a fourth-grade teacher split her stu-dents into groups and asked each group to present, tothe class, an aspect of Native Hawaiian history. But be-cause students had only the required textbook to drawon, their presentations echoed the colonialist discourses

    used in the textbook. And as the teacher silently listenedto each group present, Kaomea writes, I cannot help butquestion this teachers decision not to intervene in this par-ticular lesson, where colonial discourses of Native Hawai-ian sadism and savagery were reproduced without chal-lenge (35). Ultimately, as Kaomea demonstrates, in thismulticultural lesson, Hawaiian stereotypes are upheld,colonialism is legitimated, and here again, Eurocentrism isnormalized.Kaomeas example demonstrates Battistes (2008) asser-

    tion that . . . when Eurocentric educators encounter cul-tural difference, they have very little theory, scholarship, re-search, or tested practice to draw on in order to engage . . .learning in a way that is not assimilative . . . (87). So withinan educational system that has been built on a Eurocentricfoundation, teachers often have difficulty teaching aboutperspectives that emerge outside the dominant paradigm.In fact, as teachers attempt to align their pedagogies tothe ideals of schooling institutions, their practices becomenecessarily antithetical to the connection-building processrequired for sound multicultural education (Dudgeon andFielder 2006; Howard 2006; Ladson-Billings 1994; Single-ton and Linton 2006; Sleeter 2005). Britzman (1986) ex-plains how this situation functions pedagogically:

    Curricular organization is fragmented into instructionalactivities reduced to discrete blocks of time, thereby isolat-ing subject areas and decontextualizing skills. This processof fragmentation severs knowledge from its sociopoliti-cal context and consequences, and obscures relationshipswhich connect the student to her/his social world. For ex-ample, in studying the United States Constitution, studentsmay memorize its structural features without acquiring anawareness of their own civil rights. Knowledge takes onthe appearance of a product, something unrelated to thelearners experience and empowerment (444).

    Teaching practice thus mirrors educations emphasis onstandardization, assessment, and efficiency. As it relates tomulticultural education, Merelman (1993) offers an exam-ple of the ways these institutional ideals colonize pedagog-ical practice. In his analysis of the ways African Americanhistory is taught to elementary and middle school studentsinMaryland, he finds that compartmentalization of knowl-edge disallows full multicultural engagement. For example,he describes one teacher who took her middle school stu-dents to the schools media center so that they could re-search famous African Americans in history. Accordingto Merelman, what could have been an intellectually stim-ulating exercise for students was impeded by the overlystructured nature of the lesson. He explains that studentswere directed to answer questions on a worksheet and thatthe teacher spent most of her time not on teaching AfricanAmerican history but on the technical details of filling outthe worksheet.In this exercise African American history was collapsed

    into a series of worksheet items, which effectively denied

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • 140 De La Mare

    its complexity and context. In his research Merelman de-scribes several scenarios like this, in which no interestingor challenging dialogue emerged . . . about issues of polit-ical strategy, race relations, or political philosophy (343).In fact, as he notes, teachers tended to keep Black issuesseparate from White issues, which served not only tosymbolically segregate historical actors but to ignore theirrelational history. Merelmans work is significant becausehe draws attention to the hypercontrolled nature of class-room practice, inspired by a schooling environment thatemphasizes efficiency and standardization. This scenarioultimately strips multicultural content of its meaning.

    Using Teacher Dialogue to Create Multicultural Space

    Within such an environment, where social studies text-books tell a Eurocentric story,where theNCSSprotects thisone-sided story, and where teaching practice is smotheredby the constraints imposed by the larger practices of socialstudies education and the constraints of schooling institu-tions, I urge teachers to pay close attention to their every-day classroom communicationtheir mundane, taken-for-granted practices. . . (Fassett and Warren 2007, 45).Here, I argue that through dialogue with colleagues, teach-ers may engage in self-examination and ultimately improvetheir multicultural teaching. As teachers collectively carveout dialogic space, free from institutional constraints andtaken-for-granted practices, they may begin to think aboutand ultimately teach about multiculturalism in ways thatare much more respectful, responsible, and meaningfulthan what may otherwise be possible.Fassett and Warren define dialogue as . . . a process of

    sensitive and thorough inquiry. . .we undertake together to(de)construct ideologies, identities, and cultures (55). Inprevious research I found that dialogue among social stud-ies teachers pushed them to think more deeply about howthey taught American Indian Studies (De La Mare 2010).These discussions were, at times, largely contemplative andself-reflective, where teachers willingly discussed the prob-lems they encounter teaching Indians Studies and reflectedon their own weaknesses as well as the weaknesses embed-ded in larger school structures. For example, here, Brett,Dennis, and Darrin (all pseudonyms), deeply explore crit-ical and important issues related to Indian Education forAlla state mandate in Montanaand in this short ex-change, I show how these three teachers come to a newcollective understanding.

    Dennis:

    . . .were probably not gonna do a perfect little this is ourunit and everythings gonna come out evenly tied up witha bow at the end. That isnt the reality of it; and ya know, asI say that, it occurs to me that perhaps thats the, um, thatssort of their [Indians] culture. I dont know that things do

    come out tight, like we try to, ya know, in Western, theWestern world. Ya know, I dont think ours turns out thatway either, but we like to pretend it does, so.

    Brett:

    I agree. I think, ya know, that one week out of the year thatwe might study Native Americans, I think it is worthwhile,but I think it also reinforces that feeling that oh, its oneweek out of the year, ya know, big deal. And I think thekids get that feeling. For example, that, that day coming upnext month where were gonna be at the historical society.I think its a great idea, but again how much are the kidsactually gonna take out of it in one, in one single day? Iguess. . .

    Darrin:

    [Interrupts]Well, and, and theres huge complexities in gov-ernment curriculum too because I did teach a semester ofMontana government in [Alex, MT] when they had devel-oped a class to deal with Indian Education for All andthe problem was is that, ya know, they wanted to integrateall this tribal government information and first, it was theway. . .we formulated the curriculum [that] was quite dry,which was one of the problems, but it was still separatedout from the broader issues. Ya know, we didnt, we didntinterpret it as, ya know, were gonna study federal, thenstate, then tribal government. Its were gonna talk about,ya know, real government and then were gonna spend aweek talking about tribal government. And, that. . .it wasreally hard to not turn it into that, that, that label. And,um, I still dont know how you do that. I mean I think thisis one of the curriculum design issues that I mean, I wouldthink that we would want to spend some time and efforton in Indian Education for All. And I dont really feel likewere having what I consider to be these tough discussions.

    Dennis:

    I dont know. I guess, speaking only for myself, I agree witheverything that youre saying and Im smiling because Ihave those stereotypes. I have that in myself. Ya know, Imteaching American Government for thirty-six weeks andone week is gonna be tribal government and it seems like adrop in the bucket. It seems somewhat worthless, for lackof a better word. Um, and if, if we change as teachers. . .ifwe change our view of that, I think that will be passed onto the kids.

    Darrin:

    I, I agree.

    Dennis:

    And, and how we do that, I dont know. . .

    Darrin:

    Yeah, its tough though, right?

    Dennis:

    This might be as good a way to do this. I mean I think I canget more out of this meeting right now for 40 minutes than

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Communicating for Diversity 141

    I can going to listen to some head talk for five hours abouthow Im supposed to do this. I dont think thats going tobe worthwhile.

    Darrin:

    Or being handed a pre-fab curriculum

    Dennis:

    Exactly.

    Darrin:

    Or, or, yeah, I agree.

    Similar to Lewis and Ketters (2004) findingsthatteachers in theirmulticultural study group came to take upeach others genres, discourses, and voices inways that cre-ate new and productive ways of understanding (140)thethree teachers in this discussion also find newways of think-ing about multiculturalism. Darrin articulates the mostcritical and astute observations. He points out the prob-lematic distinction many educators make between real[Eurocentric] curriculum and Indian-centered curriculum.And in this way, he interjects a way of thinking into thegroup discussion that transcends old categories and ulti-mately motivates not just a more critical discussion but amore energized discussion. Those that reject the tired no-tions upheld by educational structures, as this teacher does,make it possible for other teachers, whose ideas are morebound by school structures, to think about multiculturaleducation differently and in more constructive ways.Teachers who want to become better multicultural ed-

    ucators should put together a teacher discussion group.Through group dialogue, they too may find opportuni-ties to think critically about their own role in local mul-ticultural education efforts, their own culturally motivatedthought patterns, their institutional biographies, and theirsocial privilege (Britzman 1986; Haviland 2008; McIntosh2002; McIntyre 1997) and how all of these issues affecttheir teaching of multiculturalism. They should articulatethe challenges they see in teaching multiculturalismtheirown fears and confusions and explore, with other teachers,ways of remedying such problems. Teachers must openlyexpress their own weaknesses and seek to address the prob-lems they perceive. Discussions also must span at leastseveral months. They cannot be, as Lawrence and Tatum(1997) point out, one-time meetings that teachers quicklyforget about. In these ways, teachers should not allow thelarger educational system to dictate their practice and thus,must actively promote listening, dialogue, and deep learn-ing among colleagues.Because every teacher will have different needs, it is im-

    portant that teachers begin by discussing what each ofthemas individualswants to get out of the group con-versations. Some may want to brush up on African Amer-ican history, learn what their states multicultural require-ments are, learn how to deal with difficult questions from

    students about diversity issues, among many other top-ics. Once everyones needs have been established, teachersshould decide on discussion topics and the materials thatwill effectively introduce the group to those topics. Teach-ers may engage any number of activities. Goodman (2000)suggests not only reading books together in a book club for-mat but also listening to each others personal stories aboutdiversity-related struggles, engaging case studies, and dis-cussing relevantmovies. Simply put, teachers should decidewhat goals they want to accomplish and the materials theywill need to propel these discussion topics.As teachers talk and begin to grapple with multicultural-

    ism in their discussion group, the ways they communicatewith each other will either help them to see and resolve theirown pedagogical problems or blind them to these problemsand prevent them from resolving them. Obviously, teacherswill want to use communication that achieves the former.To do this, it is important to create a group culture thatallows teachers to deal openly and productively with theproblems of teaching multiculturalism at their school. Thefollowing represents my list of communication suggestions,based on findings in my own research, that will set di-alogue in motion, bring positive classroom changes, andrepair the damages perpetrated on multicultural educationefforts. I offer these suggestions because I have discoveredthat teachers need each other for support, and when theyregiven regular opportunities to exchange ideas, the benefitsare countless.

    Engage, Dont Enrage

    The name of this section, Engage, Dont Enrage comesfrom anti-racist activist Tim Wise (2010), who argues thatissues of race and racism can only be productively dealtwith if people are willing to engage each other in conversa-tion. As teachers discuss multiculturalism, they too shouldremember this rule to engage. Educational research hasshown that both preservice and in-service teachers oftenbecome silent, withdraw, and even dismiss valid argumentsabout issues of race and racism (e.g., Aveling 2006; Caseand Hemmings 2005; Duesterberg 1999; Haviland 2008;McIntyre 2002; Sleeter 1992). So, as teachers talk aboutmulticulturalism in their discussion group, they should re-member to listen to all perspectives and allow group mem-bers to express different viewpoints about race so that. . .negotiation of understanding can take place (Millerand Harris 2005). If teacher groups talk about these issuesproductively and ideas are exchanged respectfully, simplis-tic ideas will become complicated, and as this process ofcomplication introduces new voices and carves space fornew ideas, deep and meaningful learning becomes possiblefor the group. So, as long as teachers engage rather than en-rage one another, the group may move beyond entrenchedideological positions and begin to re-imagine how multi-cultural education may be practiced anew in their schooland individual classrooms.

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • 142 De La Mare

    Be Comfortable with Negative Emotion

    Multiculturalism is always difficult to discuss because it in-evitably shines light on the pain of oppression, which maybring up feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, and frustra-tion (e.g., Orbe andHarris 2008). Yet because social studiesteachers have been trained in the social sciences, they havelearned to value the notion of objectivity and in this way,they have also been taught to distrust human emotion,believing that it only skews otherwise factual information(Deloria andWildcat 2001;Grande 2004;Marker 2003). Soteachers have been trained to believe that there is no roomfor emotion in schoolsno space to discuss painful topics,but issues embedded in diversity topics cannot be produc-tively navigatedwithout fully acknowledging negative emo-tions. In fact, one researcher found that because teachersand administrators at one high school consistently encour-aged upbeat and positive attitudes from students, studentsresisted fully engaging issues of racism, deeming the top-ics too negative (Trainor 2008). Another researcher de-scribes a time in her owngraduate educationwhenmulticul-tural learning suffered because of her professors inabilityto manage emotions productively in the classroom: Shewas visibly paralyzed, writes Titone (1998), . . .and herparalysis eclipsed our dialogue. Her inability to handle ourrevelations actually suffocated the tension, and that factsilenced our learning (165).Unfortunately, these stories are common. As teachers,

    we must not repeat this mistake. Instead, when emotionsarise among the group (and in our classrooms), they shouldbe openly and appropriately expressed. As teacher groupsdelve deeply into issues of diversity and the painful top-ics that naturally follow, they should not only observetheir own negative emotions, but those of others. Teachersshould listen to both the content of the discussion and theemotional undertonesa cornerstone of healthy interper-sonal communication (Watzlawick, Bavelas, and Jackson1967). If, for example, someone becomes angry, it is in thegroups best interestas a professional group of teacherswho are in the process of improving their workto stopand take inventory. As a group, trace what has been said,give the angry teacher time to explain her emotions, andabove all, genuinely listen to her. Similarly, the teacher whobecomes angry should not fall silent. While silence can beproductive at times, if it is used to separate oneself fromcolleagues, it can have long-term negative effects that willlikely manifest in a resentful communication climate (e.g.,Case and Hemmings 2005). If a group deals with emo-tions competentlyif it addresses them and constructivelymanages themthe group discussions will become moremeaningful and deep learning will become possible.

    Watch For and Change Unproductive Language

    When we attempt to engage diversity topics, we often be-come overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the current

    problems in our society, our schools, and our classrooms.So for the sake of both the groups sanity and its pro-ductivity, teachers should not invite, into their discussions,language that reflects abjection. When teachers start to saythings like, There doesnt seem to be much we can do orI dont see how I can possibly talk to my students aboutthis without hurting classroommorale, they express hope-lessness, which ultimately prevents them from seeing whatthey actually can do (Cochran-Smith 1995; Perreault 1994).Not only should expressions of hopelessness be chal-

    lenged in discussions, but so too should various other un-productive communication strategies. For example, teach-ers may dismiss valid arguments made by others in thegroup, and they may be unwilling to see their own badteaching practices and unwilling to offer constructive crit-icism (e.g., Sleeter 1992). Group members should there-fore metaprocesscollectively discuss the process of thediscussion itself (Haviland 2008). In this, various ques-tions may be asked about the groups use of language: Arethere unproductive categories being drawn, say betweenstudents of color and their white peers? Is the language be-ing used simplistic and certain or is it complex and open?Does the language imply a know-it-all attitude or does itdemonstratemotivation to learn? Oversimplifying the waysteacher groups talk about issues as well as expressing abso-lute certainty about such issues squelches communication,shuts down dialogue, and in effect, prevents learning. Inshort, once a teacher group has discovered unproductivecommunication, change ittransform it into the kind ofcommunication that propels dialogic engagement.

    Talk about Everything

    Authentic and deep learning will be impossible if the groupdoes not talk openly and honestly about everything fromoutside distractions to group process. Remember that di-alogue is a process of sensitive and thorough inquiry(Fassett and Warren 2007). Therefore, discussion groupsshould be open to discussing the larger contextual factorsaffecting group members. As members encounter distrac-tions or hardships, the group should talk about them, evenwhen those issues do not seem directly relevant to the desig-nated discussion topic. For example, teachers may be cop-ing with heavier workloads this year than in previous years,which will likely affect group discussions. Thus, it is impor-tant, as a group, to recognize outside forces that may havean impact on group members and take time to talk aboutthese stressful events. If the discussion group talks aboutoutside stressors, members will be able to release the psy-chological stress they cause and thus, talkmore easily aboutthe topic at hand. And, in fact, many times, teachers mayfind that the structural forces that affect their work are thesame forces that prevent effective multicultural education(De La Mare 2010). Such discussion allows teachers tobetter contextualize multicultural issues within their local

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Communicating for Diversity 143

    school environments, which leads to important lessonsabout how teachers might make transformational change.Discussion groups also should talk about the larger pro-

    cess of dialogue. Group members should periodically re-assess how things are going: Are peoples goals being met?What needs to change in the group so that everyones goalsare met? What material sparks the most interesting conver-sation and why? What conversations have most resonatedwith the group and why? Have these conversations changedyour classroompractice?How so? If not, why?As the groupstudies together and talks with one another, new questionsand concerns will arise. Take note of these and discuss howyoull address them in the future. This strategy will alwayskeep thingsmoving. In short, to spark and sustain learning,talk about everything.

    Engage in Classroom Dialogue

    Use the suggestions described here not only for engagingwith colleagues but also for engaging with students in classdiscussion. Educational research shows us that teachers arelargely afraid to engage students in discussion for variousreasons (Loewen 1995), but open dialogue makes effec-tive multicultural pedagogy possible (Dudgeon and Fielder2006). For example, high school teacher Heidi Tolentino(2011) describes adifficultmoment inher ownclassroomaf-ter attempting to show her predominantlyWhite classroomwhat it might have been like to experience voting-relatedracism in the state of Louisiana during the mid-twentiethcentury. She writes:

    Suddenly, from across the room I heard: You can neverunderstand. I turned quickly to see the fury on the faceof one of my African American students. . .I knew I had tomake a choice quickly and either cut off discussion or openthe door all the way. I decided to let it swing wide open. . .(155).

    Tolentino reports that while the class discussion that en-sued was difficult, it was also open, honest, and healing.Through a class discussion that engaged students experi-ences and ideas, the class learned intimately about both his-torical and contemporary racism. Tolentinos story showsthat when teachers let students take an active role in mul-ticultural learning, they come to understand the relevanceof diversity issues in their own lives and thus, learn multi-cultural content more deeply. Teachers will find that lettinggo of their old pedagogical habits, which tend to be muchmore structured, will not be easy at first, but once they getused to engaging students ideas and experiences in dia-logue, students will learn much more, and the job of teach-ing will become tremendously more fulfilling (Christensen20112012; De La Mare 2013).

    Conclusion

    Educational scholarship tells us that talking with one an-other may be the most powerful way we can learn deeplyand complexly about diversity (e.g., Dudgeon and Fielder2006; Sleeter 2005). Therefore, the more discussion one haswith both colleagues and students, themore learning is pos-sible. In short, teachers should gather their teacher groupand decide on their goals. Then remember to engage, notenrage, welcome both positive and negative emotions to thediscussion, recognize and change unproductive language,and talk about everything that may impede or propel mul-ticultural understandings. In these ways, teachers can carveout breathing space in an often-stifling Eurocentric envi-ronment and pave a path toward a meaningful teachingand learning experience. Teacher Wendy Zagray Warren(2006) exemplifies the positive experiences teachers mayencounter when they fully engage local multicultural edu-cation efforts. About Montanas Indian Education for All,she writes:

    Im so appalled at my own ignorance [of American IndianStudies] that I have begun to learn eagerlyindeed, almostdefiantly. Andwhat Im learning is interesting, exciting, andthought-provoking . . . My heart fills with hope when I seethe potential for this law to bring somuch good to theworld(online version, p. 2 of 7).

    References

    Aveling, Nado. Hacking at Our Very Roots: Rearticulating WhiteRacial Identity within the Context of Teacher Education. RaceEthnicity and Education 9, no. 3 (2006): 26174.

    Banks, James A. Multicultural Education: Historical Development, Di-mensions, and Practice. InHandbook of Research on MulticulturalEducation, edited by James A Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks,329. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.

    Battiste, Marie. The Struggle and Renaissance of Indigenous Knowl-edge in Eurocentric Education. In Indigenous Knowledge and Edu-cation, 8591. Harvard Educational Review Reprint Series, 2008.

    Britzman, Deborah P. Cultural Myths in the Making of a Teacher:Biography and Social Structure in Teacher Education. HarvardEducational Review 56, no. 4 (1986): 44256.

    Case, Kim A., and Annette Hemmings. Distancing Strategies: WhiteWomen Preservice Teachers andAntiracist Curriculum.Urban Ed-ucation 40, no. 6 (2005): 60626.

    Christensen, Linda. The Classroom to Prison Pipeline. RethinkingSchools (Winter 20112012): 2427.

    Cochran-Smith, Marilyn. Uncertain Allies: Understanding the Bound-aries of Race and Teaching. Harvard Educational Review 65, no. 4(1995): 44256.

    DeLaMare,DanielleM.Surrendering to Institutional Forces:HowWhiteHigh School Teachers Alignment with School Structures PreventsMeaningful Engagement withMontanas Indian Education For All.Unpublished doctoral dissertation, 2010.

    De La Mare, Danielle M. Dialogue Across Lines of Difference: Ac-knowledging and Engaging Diverse Identities in the Classroom,Communication Teacher 27, no. 2 (2013): 7175.

    Deloria, Vine Jr., and Daniel R. Wildcat. Power and Place: Indian Edu-cation in America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Resources, 2001.

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • 144 De La Mare

    Dudgeon, Pat, and John Fielder. Third Spaces Within Tertiary Places:Indigenous Australian Studies. Journal of Community & AppliedSocial Psychology 16 (2006): 396409.

    Duesterberg, Luann M. Theorizing Race in the Context of Learning toTeach. TeachersCollege Record 100, no. 4 (1999): 75175.

    Fassett, Deanna L., and John T. Warren. Critical Communication Peda-gogy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007.

    Gay,Geneva. Deracialization in Social Studies Teacher Education Text-books. In Critical Race Theory Perspectives on Social Studies,edited by Gloria Ladson- Billings, 12348. Greenwich, CT: Infor-mation Age Publishing, 2003.

    Goodman, Diane J. Motivating People from Privileged Groups to Sup-port Social Justice. Teachers College Record 102, no. 6 (2000):106185.

    Grande, Sandy. Red Pedagogy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield,2004.

    Haviland, Victoria S. Things Get Glossed Over: Rearticulating the Si-lencing Power of Whiteness in Education. Journal of Teacher Edu-cation 59, no. 1 (2008): 4054.

    Hermes, Mary. Maiingan is Just a Misspelling of the Word Wolf: ACase for Teaching Culture Through Language. Anthropology &Education Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2005): 4356.

    Howard, Gary R.WeCant TeachWhatWe Dont Know:White Teachers,Multiracial Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 2006.

    Kaomea, Julie. Indigenous Studies in the Elementary School Curricu-lum: A Cautionary Hawaiian Example. Anthropology and Educa-tion Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2005): 2442.

    Ladson-Billings, Gloria. The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers ofAfrican American Children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers,1994.

    .LiesMy Teacher Still Tells: Developing a Critical Race Perspec-tive Toward the Social Studies. InCritical Race Theory Perspectiveson Social Studies, 111. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publish-ing, 2003.

    Lawrence, Sandra M., and Beverly Daniel Tatum. Teachers in Transi-tion: The Impact of Antiracist Professional Development on Class-room Practice. Teachers College Record 99, no. 1 (1997): 16278.

    Lewis, Cynthia, and Jean Ketter. Learning as Social Interaction: In-terdiscursivity in a Teacher and Researcher Study Group. In AnIntroduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, edited byRebecca Rogers, 11746. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Asso-ciates, 2004.

    Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your AmericanHistory Book Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone, 1995.

    Marker, Michael. Indigenous Voice, Community, and Epistemic Vi-olence: The Ethnographers Interests and What Interests theEthnographer. Qualitative Studies in Education 16, no. 3 (2003):36175.

    McIntosh, Peggy. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.In White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism,edited by Paula S. Rothenberg, 97101. New York: Worth Publish-ers, 2002.

    McIntyre, Alice. Making Meaning of Whiteness: Exploring Racial Iden-tity with White Teachers. Albany: State University of New YorkPress, 1997.

    McIntyre, Alice. Constructing an Image of a White Teacher. TeachersCollege Record 98, no. 4 (2002): 65381.

    Merelman, Richard M. Black History and Cultural Empowerment:A Case Study. American Journal of Education 101, no. 4 (1993):33158.

    Miller, Ann N., and TinaM. Harris. Communicating to DevelopWhiteRacial Identity in an Interracial Communication Class. Communi-cation Education 54, no. 3 (2005): 22342.

    Orbe, Mark, and Tina M. Harris. Interracial Communication: The-ory into Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.,2008.

    Perreault, Jeanne M. White Feminist Guilt, Abject Scripts, and(Other) Transformative Necessities.West Coast Line 13/14 (1994):22638.

    Rains, Frances F. To Greet the Dawn with Open Eyes: American Indi-ans, White Privilege and the Power of Residual Guilt in the SocialStudies. In Critical Race Theory Perspectives on Social Studies,edited by Gloria Ladson-Billings, 199230. Greenwich, CT: Infor-mation Age Publishing, 2003.

    Singleton, Glenn E., and Curtis Linton. A Field Guide for AchievingEquity in Schools: Courageous Conversations about Race. ThousandOaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.

    Sleeter, Christine E.Keepers of the AmericanDream: A Study of Staff De-velopment and Multicultural Education. London: The Falmer Press,1992.

    Sleeter, Christine E. Un-Standardizing Curriculum: Multicultural Teach-ing in the Standards-Based Classroom. New York: Teachers CollegePress, 2005.

    Sleeter, Christine E., and Carl A. Grant. Making Choices for Multicul-tural Education: Five Approaches to Race, Class, and Gender. NewYork: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2003.

    Stanfield, John H. The Ethnocentric Basis of Social Science Knowl-edge Production. Review of Research in Education 12 (1985): 387415.

    Titone, Connie. Educating the White Teacher as Ally. InWhite Reign:DeployingWhiteness in America, edited by Joe L. Kincheloe, ShirleyR. Steinberg, and Nelson M. Rodriguez, 15975. New York: St.Martins Press, 1998.

    Tolentino, Heidi. Race: Some Teachableand UncomfortableMoments. InRethinkingPopularCulture andMedia, edited byEliz-abeth Marshall and Ozlem Sensoy, 15362. Milwaukee: RethinkingSchools, 2011.

    Trainor, Jennifer S. The Emotioned Power of Racism: An EthnographicPortrait of an All-White High School. College Composition andCommunication 60, no. 1 (2008): 82112.

    Warren, Wendy Z. One Teachers Story: Creating a New Future orLiving Up to Our Own History? For Those Who Might QuestionWhether a Law Such as Indian Education for All is Necessary, Ms.Warren Offers her Own Story As a Perfect Example of Why It Is.Phi Delta Kappan 88. no. 3 (2006): 17.

    Watzlawick, Paul, Janet Beavin Bavelas, andDonD. Jackson.PragmaticsofHumanCommunicatio: AStudy of Interactional Patterns, Patholo-gies, and Paradoxes. New York: Norton, 1967.

    Wise, Tim. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2010.

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f N

    ewca

    stle

    (A

    ustr

    alia

    )] a

    t 15:

    42 0

    4 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

Recommended

View more >