Racial Optics and its Influence on Teacher Curricular Decision-Making in Secondary Social Studies
Social studies teachers represent various political, racial, and ideological perspectives. It remains unclear how social studies teachers choose curricula and balance the racial representation they present and the implications for students' racial lenses and understanding of race in the past and present. This qualitative study will have an impact on scholars as it will contribute to the existing data on the impact of teachers' race, racial lenses and perspectives, and racial pedagogical content knowledge on their curricular choices. The data collection for this study includes three extensive critical phenomenological interviews with nine participants, each reflecting on their biographical information, personal and professional experiences, reflections of their racial lens via journaling, and a document analysis of their curricula. Additionally, a survey of 6th-12th grade social studies teachers was distributed nationwide to collect data supporting the research on teachers' racial perspectives and their curricular decision-making. The findings indicate that while most secondary social studies teachers have progressive or antiracist racial optics, they often do not convey this mentality and positionality in their curricular choices, due to a variety of reasons. Scholars could use the data from this study to examine the influences of race consciousness on social studies classrooms and understand its impact on curricular decision-making as well as the long-term effects on the development and perception of America's narrative.