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Countering privilege: Toward a critical pedagogy of compassion in the teaching of United States history

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Title: Countering privilege: Toward a critical pedagogy of compassion in the teaching of United States history
Author(s): Ansermet, Vicki
Director of Research: Darder, Antonia
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Darder, Antonia
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Anderson, James D.; Bishop, Ann Peterson; Pak, Yoon; Span, Christopher M.
Department / Program: Educational Policy Studies
Discipline: Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): compassion empathy U.S. history privilege teaching critical pedagogy critical theory critical race theory
Abstract: It is the thesis of this paper that privileged students can develop compassion for their peers who are given minority status in our society by having United States history teachers teach history in such a way that the affluent come to have a greater understanding for the “other.” The study begins with a discussion of concepts of privilege, compassion and empathy, and the poor. This is followed by an historical overview of traditions of teaching United States history and the textbooks used over the years, beginning in the late 19th century up until the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is not intended to be an exhaustive study but one which gives the main ideas of different eras and to show how they shifted from generation to generation and according to the political/social climate in the United States. In the third chapter I address issues of power, ideology, and education in the teaching of U.S. history. The consciousness of teachers and its importance in teaching for compassion is crucial to this process. In Chapter Five I do a textual analysis of three commonly used American history books in public high schools, and I also look at the texts used by American history teachers in the Champaign-Urbana community, in terms of their propensity to teach compassion to the privileged. The study ends by looking at compassion, how it can be understood, taught, and learned. This includes a conclusion and recommendations, as well as important questions to be asked at this point about compassion and teaching United States history. The critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire is very relevant here, as is critical theory and, in addition, critical race theory. We must find a way through public education to reach privileged children and help them understand their history and that of our country. To understand is to be empowered and that is true for everyone. The affuent must be brought to a place where they can understand, at a deep level of meaning, what has brought them to where they are, an accident of birthplace and status, if we are to have them as part of the struggle for equality. The twelve years they spend in school is an invaluable time to reach them. If we do not use this time to do so, it is a wasteful tragedy.
Issue Date: 2011-01-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18306
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Vicki Ansermet
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-01-14
Date Deposited: 2010-12
 

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