restricted access 108 Dysconscious Racism: The Cultural Politics of Critiquing Ideology and Identity
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108 Dysconscious Racism: The Cultural Politics of Critiquing Ideology and Identity JOYCE E. KING One goal of my course, when I was Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Santa Clara University, was to sharpen the ability of students to think critically about educational purposes and practice in relation to social justice and to their own identities as teachers. The course thus illuminates a range of ideological interests which become the focus of students' critical analysis, evaluation, and choice. For instance, a recurring theme is that of the social purposes of schooling. This is a key concept about which many students report they have never thought seriously. Course readings, lectures, discussions, and other activities are organized to provide an alternative context of meaning within which students can critically analyze the social purposes of schooling. The range of ideological perspectives considered includes alternative explanations of poverty and joblessness , competing viewpoints regarding the significance of cultural differences, and discussions of education as a remedy for societal inequity. Students consider the meaning of social justice and examine ways that education might be transformed to promote a more equitable social order. Moreover, they are expected to choose and declare the social changes they themselves want to bring about as teachers. The course also introduces students to the critical perspective that education is not neutral ; it can serve various political and cultural interests including social control, socialization, assimilation, domination, or liberation. Both impartial, purportedly factual information as well as openly partisan views about existing social realities such as deindustrialization, hunger and homelessness, tracking, the "hidden" curriculum, and teacher expectations allow students to examine connections between macrosocial and microsocial issues. Analysis of and reflection on their own knowledge and experience involves students in critiquing ideologies, examining the influences on their thinking and identities, and considering the kind of teachers they want to become. I also encourage my students to take a stance against mainstream views and practices that dominate in schools and other university courses. Through such intellectual and emotional growth opportunities, students in my course reexperience and re-evaluate the partial and socially constructed nature of their own knowledge and identities. White students sometimes find such critical, liberatory approaches threatening to their self-concepts and identities. I believe this is because most students from economically privCopyright © 1991 by the JOURNAL OF NEGRO EDUCATION, Vol. 60, No.2 (1991). Reprinted by permission. Copyrighted Material Dysconscious Racism 641 ileged, culturally homogeneous backgrounds are generally unaware of their intellectual biases and monocultural encapsulation. While my students may feel threatened by diversity, what they often express is guilt and hostility. Students who have lived for the most part in relatively privileged cultural isolation can only consider becoming liberatory, socialreconstructionist educators if they have both an adequate understanding of how society works and opportunities to think about the need for fundamental social change. The critical perspective of the social order offered in my course challenges students' worldviews. Precisely because what my students know and believe is so limited, it is necessary to address both their knowledge (that is, their intellectual understanding of social inequity) and what they believe about diversity. Copyrighted Material ...


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