Rooted pedagogies: Black women activist teachers for social change

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The history of activism on the part of African American women has laid the foundation on which contemporary African American women activists and scholars have developed theories, critiques and cultural frameworks that challenge pre-established paradigms and epistemologies (Beauboeuf-LaFontant, 1999). This study seeks to extend the research begun on African American teacher activists to include the ways in which their life experiences as activists have informed how they define and carry out their roles as educators, given current educational disparities. This study is informed by Black feminist epistemology and employs portraiture as its research methodology. Data analysis yielded several findings. First, the life experiences considered most significant were those that contributed to the teachers, developing critical consciousness as children. Secondly, each teacher pointed to the need to teach critical thinking skills so that students of color will be able to establish their places in the world as productive citizens. Thirdly, each teacher evoked a maternal and caring approach in enacting her role as teacher. Finally, what emerged from my conversations with the teachers is that their work as teacher activists is spiritually grounded and that their sense of spirituality is politically based. They consider their roles as teachers and as activists to be a spiritual obligation. The pedagogical approaches of the Black women activist teachers were theorized and named Rooted Pedagogies because they are grounded in the historical tradition of Black women’s activism. Furthermore, implications for teacher education and practice were discussed, along with recommendations for future research in this area.


Publisher: The Ohio State University




Ohio State University