Compiling the White Inventory: the practice of whiteness in a British primary school

Pearce, Sarah. 2003. Compiling the White Inventory: the practice of whiteness in a British primary school. Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(2), pp. 273-288. ISSN 0305-764X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

‘Whiteness studies’ has become a significant theme in writing about ethnicity and education over the past decade. Unlike both multiculturalism and anti-racism, whiteness theorists suggest that whiteness can be seen not as a biological fact, but as a social construction, and seek to examine white behaviour and assumptions as a first step toward resisting that behaviour. While its place in the academic world seems secure, its theories have had a limited impact on practitioners, particularly in Britain. Despite urgent calls by many writers in the field of whiteness studies, the number of white teachers attempting to understand how their own ethnicity affects their work appears negligible. In this paper I seek to begin to address that problem by applying a model of white attitudes to my own thinking and behaviour as a white teacher in a multi-ethnic primary school. It is suggested that this act of recording and reporting on the taken-for-granted behaviour of whites must be the first step toward decentring whiteness, and thus of providing a more equitable education for all children.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


June 2003Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2012 10:36

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:32

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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