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ERIC Number: ED551140
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 168
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2677-3723-6
Racial Discourse in Predominantly White Classrooms: A Phenomenological Study of Teachers' Lived Experiences Discussing Race
Lee-Nichols, Mary Elizabeth
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
This dissertation examines the lived experiences of white middle school teachers in predominantly white rural communities as they discuss race and race issues with students. Using methods of descriptive phenomenology, interviews were conducted with teachers to explore what it was like for them to talk about race in classrooms comprised of only white students, and when classes included one or two students of color. The essence of the experience was determined through phenomenological analysis, making meaning of how teachers' experienced dialogue focused on race. Findings reveal six themes illuminating how teachers' experienced talking about race and issues of race with students, whether the discussions were intentional or unplanned. Their experiences were characterized by fear and discomfort, uncertainty, anger, frustration, experience, and paralysis. Teachers experienced fear and discomfort as race became central to the discussion, especially concerned about how racial discourse would negatively impact the one or two students of color in the classroom. Uncertainty surfaced as teachers struggled with issues of colorblindness, "politically correct" language, and the possibility of reinforcing white supremacy. Anger and frustration emerged as teachers found they were unprepared and lacking experience in facilitating lessons and discussions surrounding race. However, experience acquired through exposure to aspects diversity in college, or years of integrating social justice issues into lessons, made teachers more likely to have discussions of race with students. Finally, as a result of the negative feelings they associated with discussions of race, some teachers experienced a sense of paralysis as they considered eliminating lessons in which issues of race might surface. This study contributes to an understanding of the experiences of white teachers as participants' in a racial society within a predominantly white rural setting. Implications of the study suggest a need for teacher preparation programs to address race and racism more directly through curriculum and practice. This will significantly impact how white students and students of color make meaning of race in predominantly white communities. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A