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Collusion or collision: effects of teacher ethnicity in the teaching of critical whiteness

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Heather Smith


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Educational inequities persist in England today. Initial teacher educators are therefore charged with facilitating student teachers' understanding of the issues pertaining to such inequities so they may work to disrupt them. Two lecturers at opposite ends of England, both with overwhelmingly White student cohorts, have approached this undertaking through the teaching of critical whiteness studies. This article exposes and explains the very different reactions of White student teachers to this approach given that one of the lecturers is Black and the other White. Explanations are viewed through a sociological framework which seeks to deconstruct normalized practices; in tandem with understandings of how whiteness operates to reinforce such normalization in order that inequitable power relations are reified. This revealed that student reactions were underpinned by racialised assumptions of teacher ability and motives, leading to collusion in whiteness for the White teacher and, for the Black teacher, a collision between her teaching and student perceptions of her role and values.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith HJ, Lander V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Race, Ethnicity and Education

Year: 2012

Volume: 15

Issue: 3

Pages: 331-351

Print publication date: 26/04/2012

ISSN (print): 1361-3324

ISSN (electronic): 1470-109X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2011.585340


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