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Working through Whiteness
Examining White Racial Identity and Profession with Pre-service Teachers
Kenneth Fasching-Varner -
Adrienne D. Dixson and Roland W. Mitchell
White educators comprise between 85-92 percent of the current teaching force in the United States, yet in the race toward leaving no child behind, contemporary educational research often invests significant time and energy looking for ways to reach students who represent difference without examining the nature of those who do the work of educating the nation’s public school children. Educational research that has looked at racial identity is often void of earnest discussion of the identity of the teachers, how that identity impacts teacher beliefs about students and families, and ultimately how teachers frame their understanding of the profession. This book takes readers on a journey to explore the nature of pre-service teachers’ narratives as a means of better understanding racial identity and the way teachers enter the profession. Through a case study analysis approach,
Examining White Racial Identity and Profession with Pre-service Teachers
examines the nature of white racial identity as seen through the narratives of nine pre-service teachers as well as his own struggles with racial identity. This text draws on racial identity, critical race theory, and discourse and narrative analysis to reveal how participants in the study used discourse structures to present beliefs about race and their own understandings and ultimately how the teachers’ narratives display underdeveloped understandings of their choices to become educators. Fasching-Varner also critically examines his own racial identity auto-ethnographically, and ultimately proposes a new, non-developmental model for thinking about white racial identity. This text aims to help teacher educators and teachers to work against the privileges of whiteness so as to better engage students in culturally relevant ways.
Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-7391-7686-3 • Hardback • December 2012 •
978-0-7391-9769-1 • Paperback • May 2014 •
978-0-7391-7687-0 • eBook • December 2012 •
Education / Professional Development
Education / Administration / General
Education / EDUCATION / Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
Education / Research
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Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner
is the Shirley B. Barton and assistant professor in Elementary Education at Louisiana State University in the College of Human Sciences and Education’s School of Education. His areas of expertise include sociocultural foundations, pre-service teacher development, reflexive practice, literacy, second-language acquisition and development, critical race theory, culturally relevant pedagogy, and multicultural education.
Foreword: Primum Non Nocere
Adrienne D. Dixson
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Racial Identity and Pre-service Teachers
Chapter 3: Mapping the Terrain
Chapter 4: Semantic Moves Relative to Race
Chapter 5: Naivete in Rationales for Being Teachers
Chapter 6: White Racial Identity
Chapter 7: Implications and Future Directions
Afterword: The Long Hard Look
Roland W. Mitchell
Fasching-Varner (Louisiana State Univ.) examines the preparation of white teachers, a complex, challenging topic given that the majority of the teaching force is white while the school-age population is increasingly nonwhite. The author positions his work within critical race theory and white racial identity theory and provides an extensive review of the literature to establish a helpful frame of reference. The study seeks to address three gaps in the literature: how white pre-service teachers and white teacher educator researchers come to terms with their own whiteness; the transition of teachers from pre- to in-service relative to these teacher's sense and understanding of white racial identity; and how white racial identity models can be used as a means of analyzing and explicating the nature of individual white people. Drawing on rich, interesting, and difficult interview and auto-ethnographic data, Fasching-Varner argues that participants utilized white racial bonding through various discourses as a means of discussing and negotiating the topic of race. In addition, the author found that pre-service teachers exhibited racial "dysconsciousness" about their rationales for why they have decided to become teachers. This book should generate important conversations about race in order to improve schooling for all children. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections.
In this important new book by Kenneth Fasching-Varner, we not only hear the voices and stories of teachers that ring with familiarity, investment, and conflict —we also gain compelling insight into the troubling discourses of race and Whiteness that have long framed teaching and teachers. Read and discuss this book today.
Kevin Kumashiro, dean,University of San Francisco School of Education, author of "Bad Teacher!: How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture"
Working through Whiteness: Examining White Racial Identity and Profession with Pre-Service Teachers
by Kenneth Fasching-Varner is an honest, unflinching study of the racial narratives of white pre-service teachers. Dr. Fasching-Varner builds on critical race scholarship, laying bare and employing concepts such as counter-storytelling, whiteness as property, expansive and restricted anti-discrimination, white identity development, and more, to reveal the ways that color-blindness and dysconscious racism (naivety about racism’s predominance in our world) thwarts teachers’ abilities to become culturally relevant and to break the system of beliefs and teaching practices that perpetuate the educational debt, the so-called racial achievement gap. Using theories of white racial identity and the auto-ethnography of his own life trajectory as a white male, Fasching-Varner examines the processes and workings of white identity of his study’s participants and finds that an expanded model is needed to account for the nature of white individuals and whites as a connected group in the system of privileged whiteness. In his recommendations for teacher education programs, teacher educators and pre-service teachers, we find that change is possible, through contextualized, intentional, selective approaches that complement the reality of our particular classroom settings, where teachers teach in a meaningful and culturally relevant manner. Read this book, be inspired and informed.
Elaine Richardson, Ohio State University
Working through Whiteness: Examining White Racial Identity and Profession with Pre-service Teachers
reverses the gaze in discussions about raciality and racism in education by focusing on brokers of power and privilege instead of the victimized, as is often the case. The gaze is penetrating, compelling, sometimes disturbing, but always necessary in the struggle to achieve equity and justice in educational opportunities and outcomes for diverse underserved students. Compliments are due to the author for being courageous enough to reveal inconvenient and often unspeakable truths about Whiteness for and among the majority who teach—White teachers. In the process Fasching-Varner demonstrates the power of narratives as content and method for better preparing White teachers to understand their own raciality and its effects on how they relate to diverse students. This is a must read for White prospective and practicing teachers, as well as teacher educators.
Geneva Gay, University of Washington
Kenneth Fasching-Varner has done an immeasurable service with this volume. Academic yet accessible,
Working Through Whiteness
masterfully explores the way in which whites entering the teaching profession either have or (more problematically) have not critically explored their racial identities, and the consequences of their uninterrogated white lenses on the children of color who comprise a growing share of the students in their classrooms. All pre-service teachers should read it, as should anyone who cares about the creation of educational equity in the United States.
Tim Wise, author of White Like Me and Between Barack and a Hard Place
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