The trajectory of African American teachers is traced from the establishment of Africans as educators in the United States to their current work as community agents of change. The historical access of education for African Americans is explored, leading to the creation of the role of Black educator for Black people. Significant trailblazers in the profession are highlighted as trendsetters who disrupted concerted efforts to withhold education from Black people, and descendants of this work continued the fight throughout the desegregation era to the present are also discussed. Gendered constructs of African American educators are examined in relationship to cultural norms that have shaped the profession, concluding with a review of the implications of this professional role for Black people and the Black community.
Rhonda Jeffries and Toni Williams
Kara Mitchell, Carla Wellborn, and Chezare Warren
There has been growing scholarly interest in Black girls’ and young women’s matriculation across the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline. This interest is fueled by the STEM field’s maintenance of a largely White and male culture, despite the passage of Title IX laws in the 1970s. This exploration of Black women’s and girls’ STEM participation has been incredibly important for extending what is known about this group. Less discernible from the extant literature is Black women’s and girls’ first-person sensemaking about the moments, people, incidents, and environments that determine not just their participation but also their persistence into and through higher education to complete a STEM undergraduate degree. The language of trajectories implicates life course, growth, and development in ability over time with age and experience. The various environments influencing young Black women’s and girls’ learning about STEM, and their decisions about how or if to participate in STEM, are informed by constantly evolving understandings of their intersectional race–gender identity. This identity is changing over time as they grow older and come into contact with various STEM learning opportunities, people, and places. Young Black women and girls are keenly aware of race–gender limitations imposed on them by dominant cultural norms, institutional agents, and experiences with institutional policy and practice. Such perspectives are shaping how they come to view themselves aside from STEM and the decisions they make at each point on the STEM pipeline specific to their desire to own a STEM identity despite their subject position as a race–gender minoritized person in STEM subjects and majors.
Xosé Manuel Malheiro-Gutiérrez
In the early 1970s, a University of Rochester sociology professor of Galician origin carried out an interesting experiment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan with a group of university students. This experiment consisted of a solidary exchange through which the students taught English to the members of a marginalized community of Hispanic immigrants with few economic opportunities and who did not speak the English language. In exchange, the immigrants lodged the students in their houses. “The school in apartments,” a community learning-service program, was the basis for subsequent projects.
Education as a right has been integral to a more than a century-long struggle by women for liberation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region is vast and diverse in its history, culture, politics, language, and religion. Therefore, in the study of women and education in the MENA region, it is imperative to consider particularities of each nation’s different historical and political formation in tandem with universal forces, conditions, and structures that shape the success or failure of women’s access to and participation in education. Historically, the greatest leap forward in women’s education began from the mid-20th century onward. The political, social, and economic ebb and flow of the first two decades of the 21st century is reflected on women’s education. Thus, the analysis of the current conditions should be situated in the context of the past and the provision for the future. It is crucial to make references to earlier periods, especially where relevant, to anticolonial and national liberation struggles as well as modern nation-building and the women’s rights movements. The empirical evidence aptly demonstrates that in most of the countries in the region, women’s participation in secondary and higher education is surpassing that of men. However, neither their status nor their social mobility have been positively affected. Women’s demand for “bread, work, democracy, and justice” is tied to education in several ways. First, education is a site of social and political struggle. Second, it is an institution integral to the formation and expansion of capitalist imperialism in the MENA region. Last, education is constituted through, not separated from, economic and political relations. The absence of some themes in the study of women and education reflects this structural predicament. Topics less studied are women as teachers and educators; women and teachers’ union; women and religious education and seminaries; women and the missionary schools; women in vocational education; women and the study abroad programs; girls in early childhood education; women and mother tongue education; women and the education of minorities; women and continuing education; women and academic freedom; and women and securitization of education. To study these themes also requires a range of critical methodological approaches. Some examples are ethnographical studies of classrooms, institutional ethnographies of teachers’ unions, analysis of memoirs of teachers and students, and critical ethnography of students’ movements. The proposed theoretical and methodological renewal is to contest the tendency in the study of education in the MENA region that renders patriarchal state and capitalism invisible.
Lorraine Orosco, Olga Vásquez, and Charles Underwood
Identity development involves complex processes through which individuals enhance their senses and come to understand themselves. This follows in the contextual state of the various cultural demands and the norms of the society. The development of identity could be viewed as a process that is crucial to adolescents and that enables individuals in transiting from childhood dependency into adults responsible of their needs, aspirations, interests, and desires. The process of transition includes a cognitive reorganization in the way the youth think and their relation to other individuals as they mature. Identity development is often associated with adolescence, but it is a continuous process throughout adulthood. It creates a sense of belonging in a bigger and contextual cultural transition. In Native America, universities and indigenous communities have had collaborative work to support learning and identity development among the communities. It has, however, had its share of challenges for a long time as the collaborative processes are complex in nature. One of the collaborative processes in the Native American community was the Technology And Culture Kumeyaay Literacy Education (TACKLE). The historical development of TACKLE as a university–community partnership is described in terms of the emergence of two key strategies—participatory collaborative activity and context embedded change—which came to guide the partners’ interactions as they worked together to bridge their cultural differences in developing the TACKLE program.
Arlette Ingram Willis
Globally, nations have sanctioned histories, or versions of history, that they promote and use to indoctrinate the masses, usually from a flattering and narrow point of view that justifies actions and frames events based on a belief, ideology, philosophy, or value. There are multiple histories in every nation, histories among those who are not in power, that are dismissed, ignored, minimized, or removed; and this is especially true for people of African descent. Disentangling the interwoven histories of the past to provide a more accurate, honest, and thoughtful explanation is a necessary undertaking. History is informed by those with a ready pen, and histories of United States education and literacy are no exception. These histories also are framed by the ideological, political, and social contexts and supports, of a select version of history. In short, histories tell a story, not necessarily the story. Within the history of education and literacy in the United States, the lives and literacy of people of African descent have been diminished, mischaracterized, unreported, and undervalued. People of African descent possessed and used literacy prior to their arrival in the ‘New World’ from varying regions of Africa and prior to enslavement in the United States. Too often, Black literacy education, from the 1600s to the present, has not been informed by Black scholarship or an acknowledgment of the anti-Black racism and anti-literacy laws, policies, and statutes used to legally obstruct literacy access for Black people. Black historians seek to understand how beliefs, ideologies, and values framed and influenced Black literacy access. To do so, they have examined federal and state primary source documents and have interrogated written records describing the beliefs, ideology, and reasoning used to codify anti-Black racism and anti-literacy laws, policies, and statutes. Documents help to clarify how initial and repeated reasoning is used to justify patterns of behavior and maintenance of anti-literacy policies. Counternarratives informed by Black writers of articles, broadsides, essays, newspapers, novels, poems, slave narratives, and scholarship provide an alternative perspective on the history of Black literacy education. Vignettes celebrate and convey a rich history of Black people’s resilience and struggle for equitable literacy education from the late 1600s to the present, as the struggle continues.
G. Sue Kasun, Patricia Sánchez, and David Martínez-Prieto
Transnationalism describes the ways in which ties between two or more nations are maintained; these ties abound in social practices that are, at times, situated within rigid governing structures. Transnationalism implies not only physical movement across borders, commonly referred to as “immigration,” but also emotional ties across borders. It also includes distinct ways of knowing that are informed by social media, loved ones, and cultural practices that span borders. The transnational social spaces in which youth are raised are often filled with deep understandings of geopolitical contexts that weave together multiple national perspectives, personal navigation of physical borders (both with and without authorized documentation), and complex social networks in more than one country sustained through ever-changing media applications. However, these knowledges often remain unengaged in and underacknowledged by schools. The disciplines of sociology and anthropology have informed much of the research on transnationalism, although from different standpoints. Sociology has taken a more literal sense of transnationalism, focusing narrowly on physical bodies’ movements back-and-forth over borders. Anthropologists have more robustly engaged the emotional and psychological aspects of transnationalism as it impacts the groups generally described as “immigrants.” Unfortunately, most of the research related to transnational children and education has been under the larger framework of assimilation. The unfortunate result is that the focus on how immigrants assimilate misses the opportunity to interpret (and perhaps misinterprets) a larger set of accompanying phenomena alongside the immigration act. For education, transnational experiences can help students develop a sense of identity, which in turn helps them achieve in the school settings of both receiving and sending countries, should they have to return. Similarly, transnationalism complicates and makes notions of citizenship more robust. Immigrant students are always potentially engaged transnationals during their settlement processes—the possibility exists that they will remain actively connected to their home countries and even potentially return for visits or permanently. Educational research has more recently examined how transnationalism helps create and can deepen literacy practices, especially digital literacies. Numerous education scholars have called for educators to draw upon students’ transnational lives in the curriculum. This can help prepare all students for an increasingly globalized world. This does not suggest a “learning styles” approach in which transnational students are considered a monolithic group in need of a repertoire of instructional strategies to meet the group’s needs. Instead, educators need to create the space in which students’ transnational experiences and perceptions are allowed to be aired, understood, and built upon in schools. In education, the commonly stated goal is for the classroom to function as a “community of learners.” If, in fact, educators aspire to build true communities, transnational students’ lives should no longer remain hidden from the view of their peers and teachers.
Dawn N. Hicks Tafari and Janeva Wilson
Institutionalized racism in the American education system has resulted in a crisis plaguing young Black boys from their preschool years and continuing into their pursuits in higher education. This is manifested as various forms of racial and gendered oppression, which is causing a disparate gap in Black males’ educational success and achievement. Racism and bias on the individual and systemic level have short- and long-term implications for Black male students and Black male teachers. Negative experiences in primary and secondary education make it more difficult to recruit and retain Black male teachers. The presence of Black male teachers is not only imperative to diversify a field dominated by White women but to also enhance the educational experiences of young Black boys. The diversity of students is not reflected by those teaching them, which exacerbates issues facing Black males in primary education, Black male preservice teachers, and new teachers. Understanding and addressing the barriers that young Black men face in education can yield efforts to support their success not only as students but as teachers. Establishing an inclusive and encouraging space where young Black boys can flourish in school can promote a more inviting place for Black male teachers to shine. Young Black boys who see educators that resemble them are positively impacted in areas of academic performance and personal growth. Young Black boys being introduced to mentors that understand and relate to them is instrumental during their formative years, as they can witness Black men succeeding in the face of adversity. An increased presence of Black male teachers in education is not the sole solution for the troubles and oppression that young Black boys face in education. However, they are a valuable asset to the education system, as well as the lives of students who benefit from their existence.
Elina Lahelma, Tarja Tolonen, and Sirpa Lappalainen
Feminist ethnography in education has in so-called Western countries developed in the late 1900s into a research approach with its own identifiable characteristics. Starting points are in feminist theorizations that draw from perspectives of different marginal groups, raised in the context of cultural radicalization of the 1960s and 1970s. In Finland, feminist ethnography took the first steps in the 1990s and achieved a stable position in educational research in the early 2000s. This emerging research has provided possibilities for subtle analysis in educational institutions on gendered, spatial and embodied practices, which have impact on intersectional inequalities. A theoretical and methodological invention developed by the first Finnish feminist ethnographers in the 1990s is differentiation between the official, informal, and physical layers of the school. Teaching and learning, the curriculum, pedagogy, and formal hierarchies belong to the official layer. Interaction among teachers and students, including informal hierarchies and youth cultures, takes place in the informal layer. The physical school refers to temporality, spatiality, and embodiment. These layers are intertwined in the everyday life of the school; the distinctions between them are analytical. This differentiation is one illustration of nuanced ways to conduct analysis of gendered, classed, and racialized processes and practices in schools. This analytical tool was elaborated in the large ethnographic project, Citizenship, Difference and Marginality in Schools—With Special Reference to Gender (1993–1998). The project was conducted in schools in Finland, collaborating with a similar project in the United Kingdom. The collective project was conceptualized in comparative reflections on contemporary educational politics and policies in both countries and included cross-cultural ethnographic analysis. The layers were used as tools in constructing the theoretical-methodological layout of the project and in focusing the ethnographic gaze in the field, as well as in analysis, interpretation, and writing. Using the layers of the school as an analytic tool passed on to later studies and have further been developed in novel ways, demonstrating the usefulness of collaborative feminist work in national and international networks.
Valerie Ooka Pang, Benjamin Chang, Yoon K. Pak, Audrey Hokoda, Noreen Naseem Rodríguez, and Esther June Kim
Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are often invisible to others. AAPI children are even more ignored in schools. They comprise many different groups with diverse cultures, languages, values, geographical roots, and ethnicities. This is why we have chosen to write about AAPI young people and not to limit our discussions to Asian Americans. We believe in inclusivity and so use the pan-Asian term of AAPIs. Some children may be Guamanian American, Thai American, Taiwanese American, Samoan American, Hawaiian American, Fijian American, Filipinx American, or a combination of several ethnic or racial backgrounds. Not all AAPI youth are the same. This is a major AAPI issue that teachers need to understand. Often teachers hold the misconception that most AAPIs are Chinese American. This is not true. One of the reasons that teachers and the general public are not aware of the educational, social, or psychological needs of AAPI children is because of the model minority myth. Not all AAPI students do well in school. Research has shown that young people have different academic strengths and vulnerabilities. These distinctions may be due to many variables such as ethnic membership, class status, parent education, and language proficiency in English. The model minority stereotype hurts and conceals the hardships that many AAPIs face, from low self-esteem to academic limitations. In addition, there are AAPI students who must deal with trauma from microaggressions that young people face because they are bullied due to accents, differences in physical appearance, and cultural conflicts. Others have come to the United States experiencing trauma as refugees who fled civil persecution or war. In addition, students who are LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) and AAPI may have to deal with the trauma of homophobia. Teachers must be able to identify ways to reduce trauma in schools like using culturally relevant/responsive strategies to help lessen student depression and anxieties. There are numerous approaches that teachers can take to develop compassionate classrooms in a democracy where all students are accepted and respected. They can teach compassion and kindness. Educators can teach about the contributions of various AAPI civil rights role models such as Grace Lee Boggs, Larry Itliong, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Philip Vera Cruz, Patsy Mink, and Yuri Kochiyama in the curriculum. Teaching about civil rights activists demonstrates to children and adults that AAPIs have been actively fighting for the rights of all. In addition, teachers can integrate AAPI children’s literature so students are aware of cultural values, experiences, and knowledge that has arisen from AAPI communities. All students should have the opportunity to see photos and drawings of various AAPI people in picturebooks and other texts. AAPI students are not super students; they are not math whiz kids. They are Americans like anyone else, with strengths and limitations.