Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph.D. - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Janice Fournillier, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Hayward Richardson, Ed.D. - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Akinyele K. Umoja, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Abstract

African descent students often are subjected to pedagogical practices and curricula that do not validate their home cultures or their individual and collective histories. In response to this problem, many teachers implement culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) and curricula to address the needs of this population. Focusing on two African descent teachers in an African-centered school, the purpose of this qualitative African-centered inquiry was to 1) examine how the ancient Kemetic philosophy, Ma’at, manifests in their epistemologies, worldviews, and pedagogical practices, 2) explore how their epistemologies and worldviews inform their pedagogical practices, and 3) understand how their life experiences shaped their epistemologies and worldviews. A holistic theoretical framework comprised of Afrocentric and womanist theories and a CRP theoretical approach informed the “retooled” life history methodology employed in this study. The culturally sensitive data collection methods included dialogue, storytelling, participatory witnessing, and Afrocentric group conversation. Thematic and dialogic/performance narrative analysis techniques were used to analyze the data. The significance of this study is fourfold. First, this study adds to the paucity of existing literature on exemplary African descent teachers by bringing to the fore how the epistemologies and worldviews of teachers shape their pedagogical practices in an African-centered school. Second, this study explored the intended liberatory effects of African descent teachers’ implementation of CRP for themselves and for their students, ultimately affecting how both position themselves in the broader society. Third, use of the cardinal virtues of Ma’at (truth, justice, righteousness, order, harmony, balance, and reciprocity) as the philosophical foundation for this study presents an ontological alternative to privileging western philosophical frameworks typically used in educational research. Finally, as the ancient Kemetic philosophy employed in this study and as this study’s philosophical foundation, Ma'at specifically encourages policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to reexamine their notions of contemporary education in terms of its purpose, methods, and conceptions of the whole child. The findings illuminate ways that Ma’at undergirds the participants’ epistemologies, worldviews, and culturally relevant pedagogical practices enabling them to facilitate critical thinking, critical consciousness, and identity development with their students.

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