Life histories of white male teachers of diverse students: intersections with whiteness, masculinity, and difference
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This critical inquiry begins with the researcher’s lived experiences as white male teacher of diverse students as motive and ethics. As researcher and fifteen-year educator of diverse students, the researcher takes on the role of researcher-participant along with five other white male teachers in the inquiry. The researcher poses the question: What are the life histories of white male teachers of diverse students, and how do intersections with whiteness, masculinity, and difference emerge in the stories? In answering this question, this critical inquiry receives impulse from Mill’s (2000 ) understanding of the sociological imagination that seeks to articulate lived experiences within historical and social structures. Using life history methodology designed to reveal lived experiences as they intersect with historical and social structures (Goodson, 1992a; Goodson, 1992b; Goodson, 1995; Middleton, 1992), this inquiry analyzes patterns and subpatterns in participants’ life histories as they intersect with historical and social structures of whiteness, masculinity, and difference. Emerging from the data, the researcher uncovers sub patterns that articulate a pattern of participants’ counter or alternative lifestyles (Willis, 1993 ; Willis, 1977; Hebdige, 1979). The above patterns regarding alternative lifestyles, continually contextualized and analyzed as “lived intersections” with historical and social structures, articulate participants’ complex negotiations in, resistances to, and complicities with whiteness, masculinity, and difference. Lived intersections with whiteness articulate lived whitenesses, white visibility, and participants’ re-shaping but not denying white identities. Lived intersections with masculinity articulate a rejection of instrumental hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1987; Connell, 1995) for an experiential masculinity. Lived intersections with difference articulate a contradictory deficit thinking (Valencia & Solórzano, 1997; Valenzuela, 1999) and structural understandings of difference along with a practical (Schwab, 1978a, Schwab, 1983; Reid, 1984) difference pedagogy that resembles Cummins’s (1986) work with minority students. As an act of sociological imagination, this critical inquiry articulates an unspoken and problematic “rejection” of participants’ privileges that, over the course of a lifetime, appears as practical difference pedagogy as part of the story. As this inquiry represents, very personally, the researcher’s lived experience he reveals, contradictorily, a sense of hope and impotency before the findings.