White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms
Edited By Nicole M. Joseph, Chayla Haynes and Floyd Cobb
9. Challenging Patterns to Change My World: Using My Personal Evolution of Critical Race Consciousness in Mathematics Teacher Education
FRANCES K. HARPER
Exploring issues of race in the predominately White space of teacher education presents significant challenges. As a White female, I have found limited success with guiding prospective teachers in secondary mathematics methods courses to interrogate the influence of Whiteness on mathematics teaching. In my experiences, explicitly naming race in conversations with prospective teachers can lead to awkward silences and hurt feelings. I sometimes fall into the common trap that ensnares many White critical pedagogues—offering broad, critical questions to avoid naming race explicitly (Allen, 2004). Although more comfortable, this approach fails to highlight the role of racism in perpetuating inequities in mathematics education, and even when Whiteness is challenged directly, White prospective teachers often find ways to maintain and enact their dominant racial ideologies (Picower, 2009).
Despite the daunting challenge, I have committed to taking a direct approach when discussing issues of race with prospective teachers in secondary mathematics methods. My efforts to explicitly name mathematics education as a racialized space are usually met with resistance. Reactions have varied from angry denial (e.g., “I’m not a racist!”) to hopelessness (e.g., “The problem is just too big”). Such responses are unproductive because they rarely inspire change in teaching practice, but I am confident that my efforts to bring a critical race perspective into a secondary mathematics methods course are important. Guiding White prospective teachers to develop critical race consciousness requires sustained effort across the teacher education ← 151 | 152 → curriculum (Picower, 2009), and...
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