ERIC Number: EJ1001293
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
The Nanny in the Schoolhouse: The Role of Femme-Caribbean Identity in Attaining Success in Urban Science Classrooms
Grimes, Nicole K.
Cultural Studies of Science Education, v8 n2 p333-353 Jun 2013
A growing body of teacher identity-based research has begun to embrace that the development of self-understanding about being a teacher is critical to learning how to teach. Construction of a professional teacher identity requires much more beyond mere content, skills and a foundational pedagogy. It also includes an intersection of the personal and professional "self," which gives way to the emergence of multiple identities in the classroom. An educator's gender, nationality, language and interests among other tenets all permeate the classroom field and coexist alongside the professional role identity. This paper aims to use narrative as a way to discuss how science educators can mediate holding several identities in the classroom in order to create an environment characterized by successful teaching and learning. Drawing from an array of sociocultural theoretical perspectives, complementary constructs of identity by Jonathan Turner ("Face to face: toward a sociological theory of interpersonal behavior." Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2002) and Amartya Sen ("Identity and violence: the illusion of destiny." W. W. Norton, New York, 2006), George Lakoff's ("Metaphors we live by." University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1980) work on metonymy, and David Bloome's (2005) theorization of the power of caring relationships, I explore the ways in which my Black female Caribbean identity has transformed the science classroom field and created positive resonance for some of my privileged White students who have Caribbean caretakers at home. To begin, I unpack how Afro-Caribbean immigration to urban centers in the United States continues to produce childcare occupational opportunities in places like New York City. Being a first generation Trinidadian immigrant, my many identities have structured my science teaching praxis and consequently transformed the way my students learn science. A significant part of this paper is a reflexive account of experiences (primarily dialogue) with science students situated both within and outside the science classroom. Conversations with students who were raised through the hired help of Caribbean nannies have revealed that there is a strong resemblance to the way they perceive their caretakers as they do me--their instructor. These conversations serve as a backdrop to illuminate the dynamic nature of identity construction and its relationship to the development of ongoing dialogue. The hope is that this autoethnographic work illustrates the salience of student lifeworlds in affording opportunities for success in the science classroom. Additionally, this research seeks to illustrate how understanding the unconscious "backgrounding" and "foregrounding" of certain identities in the classroom can improve one's praxis in the urban science classroom and possibly increase student success in science. It is also hoped that this story reiterates the importance of using stories for purposes of scholarship, for moving towards better understandings of the social situations we are concerned to investigate as researchers and for better communication of those understandings.
Descriptors: Science Instruction, Science Teachers, Sexual Identity, Ethnicity, Racial Identification, Professional Identity, Ethnography, Personal Narratives, Teacher Student Relationship, White Students, Child Caregivers, Immigrants, Praxis, Urban Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York