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ERIC Number: EJ1074838
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
I Thought You Were One of Us! Triumphs and Crisis When Teaching Your Own
Heer, Kal
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v37 n4 p359-372 2015
Authoritative knowledge produced by white acacemics has forged much of the cannon in educational research. Recently, scholars of color, have been asserting their unique positionalities to conduct research and teach among their own communities. As a result they have provided a challenge to normative privilege whiteness in education. Claims of neutrality, colorblindness and scientific objectivity in regards to conducting research in communities of color have been significantly scrutinized by these scholars. Immersed in this critique are concerns about new forms of colonialism, invisibility of white privilege, and the exclusion of researchers of color who work within self-identified communities from a broad research agenda. These debates have extended into the classroom as educators of color have noted the lack of diversity in the teaching profession. Others have noted that teachers of color are not the only ones capable of educating students of color in meaningful ways but instead focus on what be gained from these teachers in diverse public schools. As a self-identified Punjabi Sikh teacher, Kal Heer, offers examples of how specific knowledge about students' community affiliations, cultural practices, and languages spoken in the home helped build positive relationships with students within and outside the school. He notes that using culturally responsive pedagogy was useful in exploring ways of linking schools with larger societal and policy issues that related to the lives of these learners. He cites those as examples of some of the many ways teachers of color potentially provide platforms of success that seem to correspond with their own cultural background. The purpose of this article is to lead a discussion of the negative impact of difference on racialized educators, which Heer sees as an undertheorized issue. The two main focus points of this article involve moments where students would surprise Heer with varying opinions on issues of racism which differed from his own, and how these students regularly differentiated themselves from each other. As a novice teacher, Heer soon realized that the absolute knowledge the school community "thought" he embodied regarding issues in the Punjabi Sikh community were constantly challenged by students who invoked differences with him and other classmates. Heer writes that he found this to be very stressful as he grappled with his own discomfort in feelings of betraying the community when two particularly vocal students used the term "sell out" and the refrain, "I thought you were one of us" in expressing their displeasure in the direction they felt he was leading the class. Heer closes by calling for vigilance in investigating what teachers of color think about their experiences in schools. He suggests that they too often find themselves used as evidence of successful implementation of multicultural policies. Heer encourages administrators to spend more time actually speaking to teachers about the challenges identified to those teaching their own, and that could benefit educators in renewing classroom practice.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A