Creating Dangerously: A Conversation with Artist-Educators about Teaching in Diverse Settings


The profession of education remains predominantly white and female at the same time that classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse in the United States. In recent years the field of education has started to examine classroom dynamics through an intercultural lens by addressing the interactions of white teachers and their students of color. Within a particular area of study, the arts allow individuals to explore culture/identity, to make rich and complex meanings through symbolic representations and to create processes and products that transmit messages within and potentially across cultures.

Because of the arts’ unique nature, this study focuses on the work of artist-educators working within educational non-profits and examines their understanding of teaching students of color. What strategies do white artist-educators employ in diverse classrooms and what can that tell us about race, class and education in the U.S? Interviews with educators about their experiences of being artists and their processes of creating artistic meaning offer new insights into identity development.

The author concludes that working with art and children of color qualitatively resembles and departs from the transformational experiences of other white teachers. Incorporating the participants’ insight and experiences, the author identifies some of the unique dynamics of culture of silence, privilege, and questions of risk. The research allows for the development of new strategies for building trust, honesty and authenticity that have relevance in the fields of diversity training, education and social justice.


Education | Sociology of Culture

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