Privileged Pages: Contextualizing the Realities, Challenges, and Successes of Teaching Canonical British Literature in Culturally Responsive Ways Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bissonnette, Jeanne
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • Though research suggests a dichotomous relationship between transformative pedagogies and canonicity, these conversations often fall short of comprehensively nuancing the factors that shape these pedagogical and curricular tensions. Buttressed by foundational theories of culturally responsive pedagogies (Gay, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Villegas & Lucas, 2002), this collective case study advances the field and galvanizes the professional discourse around the canon by querying the extent to which teachers perform culturally responsive practices in the canonical British literature classroom—the most enduring and exclusionary curriculum of the secondary English domain—and examining the factors that inhibit, promote, and otherwise complicate these practices. Data collected from over five months of classroom observations and forty interviews amalgamate to tell the story of Sam, a white male in his fifth year of teaching who engages his predominantly African American students in race-related discussions almost daily; Geneva, an African American female with 14 years of experience who must engage culturally responsive teaching in more subversive ways and private spaces so as not to unsettle the parents, administration, and students at her predominantly white school; and Allison, a white female in her eighth year of teaching at an International Baccalaureate school who insists her provocative approach to pedagogy is merely “good teaching.” Data were coded for their alignment with the 11 characteristics of the Multicultural Teacher Capacity Scale (Cain, 2015), a five-tiered progressive scale of culturally responsive teaching practices and characteristics. Deductive Qualitative Analysis (Gilgun, 2010) guided the investigation of the data. This work concludes by urging practitioners to critically reflect on the ways in which they might modify their instructional practices to better account for the incongruences between traditional curricula and their culturally and linguistically diverse students. Further implications, including the possibilities of a differentiated model of teacher preparation that supports literacy practitioners as they develop and hone the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed to perform culturally responsive pedagogies in their classrooms, is also discussed.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Trier, James
  • Justice, Julie
  • Reaser, Jeffrey
  • Griffin, Dana
  • Glazier, Jocelyn
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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