LSU College of Education Professor Offers Research on Racial Identities
BATON ROUGE – The LSU College of Education Curriculum Theory Project, or CTP, Brown Bag Lecture Series hosted “Wow! We are Really White,” presented by Kenny Fasching-Varner on Tuesday, September 20, in 225 Peabody Hall.
The presentation stemmed from the research of Fasching-Varner, which examines white racial identity as expressed in the narratives of pre-service teachers. Fasching-Varner’s research illustrated that there is often a disconnect in identity between teachers and their students and focused on understanding teachers’ own racial identities as an important step toward reconciling identity differences.
His study also revealed that research participants displayed repeated instantiations of abstract liberalism, an engagement with ideas that reflect liberal ideals to explain race while simultaneously engaging in discourse that conflicts with these liberal views, revealing a more conservative orientation to race.
Participants in Fasching-Varner’s study used a variety of techniques to establish non-racist, non-judgmental, open and expansive standpoints. Conversations with the same subjects, however, revealed conflicts to their articulated ideologically open positions.
Research suggested that while white pre-service teachers may not intentionally, or even consciously, view students of color differently from the way they view white students, the participants revealed subconscious ideas about race that warrant a deeper understanding of how differences across the identity spectrum can be addressed by teacher educators in the preparation of pre-service teachers.
Through his research, Fasching-Varner aims to discover pathways to reconcile the disconnect in identities between teachers and students, helping pre-service teachers build symmetrical relationships with students.
“If we are to meet the challenges of 21st century education, particularly in urban settings, conversations about race and racial identity are pivotal, particularly given that 85-92 percent of teachers are white and students do not mirror this same demographic,” said Fasching-Varner.
Fasching-Varner conducted this research in the northeast United States and is eager to work with pre-service and in-service teachers in south Louisiana. He joined the LSU College of Education faculty in August 2011 as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Practice and recently has been elected to the LSU Faculty Senate executive committee.
For more information on the LSU Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice, visit http://coe.ednet.lsu.edu/coe/etpp/.
For more information about the LSU Curriculum Theory Project, visit http://educ-calvin2.lsu.edu/~lsuctp/.