We Cant Teach What We Dont Know: White Teachers, Multi Racial Schools, By Gary R. Howard
Gary R. Howard’s book "We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, multiracial Schools" articulates the knowledge and actions necessary for White teachers to move forward on the path of multicultural education toward transformative pedagogy. Howard sets a sturdy foundation of deconstructed theory to enable White educators to move from the dysconscious to the conscious and establish and understand the complexity of White identity. That foundation is then built upon with ways to utilize those theories and apply them to one’s own pedagogical approach. The main goal of this book is social healing through knowledge and action combined and implemented for the success of all students.
The journey that Gary R. Howard takes his readers on parallels his own life’s journey from “cultural encapsulation” (p. 14) to White transformationist. In the beginning of the book, Howard explains that it wasn’t until he was eighteen that he even discovered his own Whiteness, and it only took one encounter with someone racially different than himself for him to begin questioning the world around him. Howard soon after, moved to a predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhood in New Haven, and began to see the world from many different lenses, allowing himself to learn and change as a White person. Howard has worked with thousands of teachers over the years in workshops for multicultural education, and he is the President and Founder of the REACH Center for multicultural Education.
[...] Because the theory of White identity development has been created around the theory of Black identity development, an understanding of Black identity development is necessary in order to understand the growth of White identity. The theory of Black identity development is broken down into five stages. The first stage is pre-encounter where the individual “wears the mask of Whiteness”. The pre-encounter stage leads into the encounter stage where that mask is lifted and racial significances become clear. The encounter stage transitions into immersion/emersion. In this stage anger and avoidance of the individual’s race occurs and then is succeeded by a deep commitment to their race with little acknowledgment of, or interaction with Whiteness. [...]
[...] Howard created a model that defines three distinct White identity orientations. Each orientation includes different ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which are then broken down further into modalities of growth. “The White identity orientations model provides a means of tracking how White educators can progress in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors relative to Whiteness and issues of dominance (p. 103)”. These three orientations are Fundamentalist, Integrationist, and Transformationist. The Fundamentalist White identity is comprised of linear and fixed thinkers on the issues of race. [...]
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