Examining Teachers’ Perspectives on the Utilization of Counter-Hegemonic Texts in Their Secondary Social Studies Classrooms
Brower, Samuel 1982-
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Critical pedagogy and social justice call for teachers to use their dialectical authority actively to promote democratic classrooms where students have the freedom to create their own knowledge (Kincheloe, 2008). As opposed to viewing students as receptacles for accumulating knowledge, critical pedagogy views students as active participants in education. The use of counter-hegemonic texts exposes students to an array of possibilities and perspectives. Allowing students to utilize counter-hegemonic texts that affirm them as human beings enables students to explore their identities and cultural legacies. It further allows them to investigate their place in schools and how schools act as a normalizing force for privilege. The use of counter-hegemonic texts fosters the ability to act as agents of change in schools, communities, and society (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2007). My primary research question was: How are educators using counter-hegemonic texts to move beyond the traditional teaching of social studies? I wanted to know how they arrived at the point where they rejected the banking concept of education and decided to attempt something different (Freire, 2008). I also wanted to know about the evolution of that process. To answer my question of why and how these teachers are moving beyond traditional teaching through the use of counter-hegemonic texts, I acted as what Yvonna Lincoln would call a bricoleur (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008). The qualitative researcher acts as a bricoleur to conduct what Kincheloe describes as multiperspectival research methods (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004). Carspecken’s (1996) critical qualitative research methodology enabled me to capture the voice and perspectives of my three teacher participants on their journey towards student empowerment and collective critical consciousness. My employment of critical qualitative research investigated how each teacher used counter-hegemonic texts to break through the constraints of a standards-based educational system and promote a social justice oriented curriculum. By employing this approach, I addressed my research question by investigating the complexities of cultural hegemony and power relations at multiple levels in a nuanced and rigorous fashion. Their perspectives and experiences flow through the research and offer critical insights into the complex lives of critical educators operating within a suppressing system.