Publication Date

2010

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Janaki Natarajan

Abstract

Take racism and sexism. No matter how pervasive they are, you know, they ain't genetic! We learn those systems of inequality. Well, if we learn them then we can unlearn them—or better yet, we can just stop ever teaching that stuff.

— Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Kalamazoo College Commencement Address

(1992, p. 10)

Education, like many other systems, can be used to reproduce social, political, and economic stratifications based on class and race. At the same time, education can also be used as a tool of emancipation to resist the current capitalist structure, and to fight against such separations. The ultimate goal for most social justice educators is what bell hooks calls “education as the practice of freedom” (1994, p. 207), drawing from Paulo Freire’s ideas about education for liberation. In the current educational system in the United States (and around the world), institutions and individuals perpetuate Eurocentrism and inequality based on race both consciously and unconsciously. This research explores the curricular means of perpetuating Eurocentrism in schools by looking at teachers’ awareness of racism and bias in educational materials. One aspect of the inquiry includes an extensive look at the history of “race” and racism in the United States, as connected to the concept of “Whiteness” and a Eurocentric worldview. These, in turn, are linked to the structures of capitalism and the connections between “race” and class. Another element of the research explores how educators define the term “Eurocentrism,” whether or not they see elements of its presence in the materials they use, and if they are addressing it or not. Nine educators completed surveys answering questions related to the research, and four of those participants took part in follow-up interviews. Using a qualitative approach, the analysis showed that the respondents were generally aware of Eurocentrism, but did not explicitly combat or address it in their teaching.

Keywords: Eurocentrism, Whiteness, racism, bias, inequality, multiculturalism, capitalism

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Community-Based Learning | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Inequality and Stratification | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

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