A Case Study of Whiteness at Work in an Elementary Classroom

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Cultural Studies of Science Education






Springer Netherlands

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We are interested in how whiteness shaped one teacher’s abilities to engage his elementary school students in culturally responsive pedagogy, especially his abilities to engage or avoid conversations about race-based inequities in an integrated technology unit focused on NGSS disciplinary practices. We draw upon culturally responsive pedagogy, critical race theory, and critical whiteness studies to understand the role of whiteness in a single case study of integrated elementary science teaching leveraging electronic textiles technology. The case study reported here is part of a larger study investigating how technology integration supports justice-centered science learning for elementary school teachers and their students in the Intermountain Region of the USA. The authors are white and Latino and all, but one, are former classroom teachers. Drawing on multiple data sources (field notes of classroom observations, interviews, transcripts of video-recorded classroom sessions), we developed a single descriptive case to illustrate shifts in teacher practice over time. We documented one white, male, fifth grade teacher’s engagements with his students around issues of race as manifested in conversations about immigration, migration, and forced relocation in an integrated technology unit focused on NGSS disciplinary practices. This single case and the teacher perspectives it illustrates are resonant not only of our data but also the scholarly literature on white pre- and in-service teachers in the USA. We conclude with some practical recommendations for teacher professional development.

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