Teacher Education for Racial Knowledge: Institutional and Pedagogical Challenges for Developing Racial Knowledge

Lisette Nnenna Enumah, University of Pennsylvania


This qualitative study explored the practices of teacher educators (TEs) who teach about race and racism. Through interviews, focus groups, and artifacts from teaching, TEs reflected on their teaching goals, pedagogical practice, and successes and challenges in teaching for racial knowledge. Three key findings emerged. First, I examined tensions that emerged for TEs who teach about White supremacy from within White supremacist institutions. Drawing primarily from Mills’ (1994, 1999, 2015) and Leonardo’s (2004) theoretical constructions of White supremacy, I proposed a framework for the logic of White supremacy and used this logic to analyze the emergent tensions identified by TEs in the study. Second, I analyzed TEs’ use of racial-emotional pedagogy to support novices’ ability to attend to racialized emotions. Drawing from research on racial literacy (Guinier, 2004; Stevenson, 2014; Twine, 2004), emotional literacy (Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Maher, 1990), and pedagogies of discomfort and empathy (Boler, 1999; Lindquist 2004; Zembylas & Papamichael, 2017), I used racial-emotional pedagogy as a framework to describe teacher educators’ pedagogical strategies for supporting teachers development of knowledge and skills for attending to racialized emotions in their practice. Finally, with critical perspectives on institutional diversity discourse (Berry, 2015; Iverson, 2012; Patel, 2015) as context, I examined how TEs seek support within institutions of higher education and found that TEs’ social identities were important factors that influenced how they engaged with professional networks as a supportive tool for the work of teaching teachers about race and racism. Implications for both teacher educators as practitioners and for teacher education programs are discussed.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Enumah, Lisette Nnenna, "Teacher Education for Racial Knowledge: Institutional and Pedagogical Challenges for Developing Racial Knowledge" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27666389.