Critical race theory in elementary social studies: exploring racial identity and stereotype threat for black males

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University of Alabama Libraries

Despite the vast research by various education specialists regarding the state of emergency as it relates to the Black male student and his success, little is known about the effects the social studies can have on their lives. Much of what is published about Black male students’ academic and personal lives, portrays these young men as defiant, unengaged, undereducated, and socially bankrupt. This study attempted to provide a voice for these young men through a transformative mixed method approach. The students and their social studies teachers completed a survey that examined their attitudes and beliefs of the social studies and how it could be used to instill a positive self-identity within this group of students. The students also took the Multidimensional Inventory Survey, developed upon a phenomenological view of the correlations between a person’s self-identity and his or membership within a particular race (Rowley, Sellers, Chavous, & Smith, 1998), to gain sight into how they believed they identified as males within the Black race. The students and teachers were then interviewed to triangulate the quantitative findings. The analysis of the data yielded the following: 1) Black boys enjoyed the social studies particularly when presented in a culturally relevant format, 2) Black boys possessed high levels of Black identity and closely aligned with teachers who viewed them as individuals and identified with the issues they encountered, 3) Teachers of these Black boys held them to high standards and did not compromise these expectations, 4) Teachers insinuated a culturally relevant social studies curriculum yielded increases in their Black male students’ self-identities, 5) Black boys wanted a space to feel valued, and the social studies classes in which they were enrolled, provided this positive valuation of them, which improved their own self-identities.

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Social sciences education, Multicultural education, Pedagogy