ERIC Number: ED382948
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995
Reference Count: N/A
Dangerous Discourses: The Politics of Multicultural Literature in Community and Classroom. Report Series 7.4.
Bigler, Ellen; Collins, James
An in-depth ethnographic study of an upstate New York Middle School in an ethnically polarized community investigated teacher and community response to multicultural literature initiatives. Most of the data for the study came from interviews with and observations of teachers in the school; it was collected mostly over the 1991-92 school year when members of the community were engaged in a conflict between a growing Hispanic population and the town's Euro-American senior citizen population over adapting school practices to meet the needs of the minority youth. In addition to the teachers, 23 minority students were interviewed in depth, as well as a range of parents and politically active community members. Follow-up interviews were conducted in the 1992-93 school year. Results show the importance of recognizing the teacher as the key link in the process of broadening school curriculums through multicultural materials. While teachers used multicultural texts, they drew upon their own experiences and popular understandings in ways that silenced particular discourses--for example, through omission of particular types of selections, avoidance of classroom discussion, or subtle reinforcement of societal biases. These practice were not intended to be harmful to any particular group; most of the teachers were very interested in acting in the best interest of their students. Reasons for this shortcoming could be attributed to the fact that most teachers received their degrees before multiculturalism became an agenda at universities. Also, working conditions can prevent teachers from working through new ideas. Essentially isolated behind closed doors, they do not observe each other teach and do not continue their education usually beyond the courses required for a master's degree. (Contains 70 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Research Center on Literature Teaching and Learning, Albany, NY.
Identifiers: Multicultural Materials; New York (Upstate)