Confronting Dominant Whiteness in the Primary Classroom: progressive student teachers’ dilemmas and constraints

Pearce, Sarah. 2012. Confronting Dominant Whiteness in the Primary Classroom: progressive student teachers’ dilemmas and constraints. Oxford Review Of Education, 38(4), pp. 455-472. ISSN 0305-4985 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Concerns about new teachers’ capacity to address diversity in their classrooms are growing in many parts of the West, and there is some consensus that one aspect of the problem is the narrow range of cultural and social backgrounds from which teacher candidates are drawn. Yet a minority of socially aware teachers, from a range of backgrounds, continue to join the profession, and attempt to teach in ways that address diversity and confront racism. Drawing on data from an on-going longitudinal study of progressive teachers in their early careers, this article explores the dilemmas and constraints faced by four student teachers on their final teaching practice. Focusing on the curriculum, it examines their different responses to the unexamined white norms and priorities in the material they are expected to teach. It concludes that there is cause for optimism about some new teachers’ understanding of and commitment to race equality and ethnic diversity, and their potential to effect real change in schools. In order for such progressive change to come about, however, more attention needs to be paid to how schools respond to teachers who offer a challenge to hegemonic white norms and practices.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies > Centre for Identities and Social Justice


2012["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_shown" not defined]

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Date Deposited:

19 May 2016 13:10

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:18

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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