Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Resistance to White Privilege Discourse: Teaching Multiculturalism

Dr. Patricia Burdell.

Students’ resistance to anti-racist pedagogy and to discussions of white privilege has been widely noted in educational literature (Sleeter, 1993; McIntyre, 1997; Aveling (2002); Lesko and Bloom (1998), Levine-Rasky (2000). etc.). As Sleeter (1993) argues, it is inadequate to address racism in education by trying to educate white teachers. However, the majority of those entering teacher education programs are white with too few African American and other students of color planning careers in teaching (AACT, 1995). The pragmatic question then becomes how we should provide these predominately white students with opportunities to begin to understand contemporary social contexts. In the areas of teacher education engaged in inquiry into these issues (alternately called antiracist pedagogy, multicultural education, teaching for social justice, culturally relevant teaching) it has been argued that students must come to understand how racism and difference are interrelated ideological concepts which have benefited the ruling business and technocratic interests (McLaren 1997). From this theoretical perspective, whiteness is viewed as a particular social and historical formation that should not simply be identified with biologically white people. It is asserted and repeatedly emphasized by such theorists that white teachers will need to problematize their shared experiences (and unearned privilege) in order to actively form alliances with people of color as part of a larger politics of liberation. In this chapter I will briefly review education literature on whiteness and consider its effectiveness in informing how teacher educators discuss whiteness with pre-service and in-service teachers.
My goal was to understand the nature of the content and form of curricular knowledge about “diversity” that I was constructing with my students in this site. In this paper I discuss my efforts to understand student conceptualizations about race--the ways they articulated their understandings of being in an African American space and how they constructed "sameness" and "otherness.” I attempt to link historical and social construction of "whiteness” to a set of cultural meanings that have acted to legitimate the dominant racially unequal society. I will conclude with discussion related to the conference theme of (4) of Society and Learning: Specifically addressing:
Equity, participation and opportunity: addressing disadvantage in education
Challenges for teacher training and professional development.


Dr. Patricia Burdell  (United States)
Associate Professor
Division of Education
Friends University

Dr. Burdell is an Associate Professor in the Division of Education where she currently teaches Educational Psychology and Social Studies Methods. Dr. Burdell taught in Lansing, Michigan for nineteen years prior to obtaining her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1993. She also taught high school completion and GED classes during the evenings at the Lansing North American Indian Center from 1971 to the early 1980's. She came to Friends from Kent State University where she taught in the Adolescent and Adult Education Program and the Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Program.

  • Teacher Education
  • Multiculturalism
  • Diversity

(Virtual Presentation, English)