Teachers' constructions of racism and anti-racism
McCreary, Tyler A
Race and racism inform our subjective realities and structure unequal material relations in contemporary society. While researchers have developed substantive theories to explain racism as systemically pervading institutions within society and permeating our consciousness, studies must also examine how people with privilege deny or admit the existence of racism within their institutions in different environments. Studies of how educators understand racism have been emerging; however, there remains a paucity of scholarship addressing this topic in the Canadian Prairies. In this thesis I use discourse analysis to investigate how prairie teachers negotiated the troubling topic of racism in their schools. The data was collected through open-ended surveys and focus-groups exploring teachers’ understanding of racism and anti-racism within two mid-sized prairie city high schools. First, exploring survey responses, I use text-based discursive analysis techniques to analyze how participants minimize the unsettling presence of racism in the school. In their responses, teachers used techniques of individualization, blaming the victim, displacement, and situating racism as a student problem to avoid implicating themselves or their school within racism. Teachers preserved the colour-blind image of education, maintaining the benevolence of the educational institution and its employees. However, different images of education emerged from focus-group discussions with educators interested in exploring anti-racism in the school. Focus group participants shifted from minimizing racism to problematizing privilege and power within the building. Multicultural, psychological, and institutional approaches to anti-racism emerged, emphasizing the need to engage individuals, cultures, and institutional structures. Exploring how teachers articulated different versions of the school environment, the identities of students, and their own identities within and between these different anti-racist discourses exposed how versions of each approach could be constructed to situate racism as external to education, and how critical conceptualizations of the school opened opportunities for individual, cultural, and institutional change within education. This research develops the understanding of race in the Canadian Prairies, discourse analysis within geography, anti-racist education, the geography of how teachers situate racism, and how teachers construct the relationship between school, teacher identity, and racism.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeSt. Denis, Verna; Noble, Bram F.
Race in Education