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A Mixed Methodology Exploration of White Female Pre-Service Teachers’ Discussions of Race and Gender through Presentations of Counternarratives in Children’s Literature Books Open Access

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This research utilized performance autoethnography and case study methodologies to explore the ways in which White female pre-service teachers’ perceptions of race and gender are informed by their reading of four counternarratives about Black females written by Black female authors and their participation in a book club. Specifically, this study looked to uncover how engaging with a practical classroom tool like children’s literature books in a book club format creates a transformative space for White female pre-service teachers to critically interrogate notions of race and gender. Performance autoethnography allowed for an exploration of how I contributed to and was affected by the book club setting as a Black female and teacher educator. Case study methodology was used to explore the research questions more directly to capture the essence of the bounded system of the book club. A review of literature revealed teacher education needs more structured spaces to support pre-service teachers’ ability to have conversations about race, gender, and other categories of diversity. This study focused particularly on White female pre-service teachers as they make up the majority of the teaching force in the United States. Additionally, focus was given to White female pre-service teachers as the literature shows that White women tend to use “white talk” - or ways of talking about race which allows them to protect themselves from having a conversation about race. The results of the study are presented in the order of the books read by the pre-service teachers and myself. The findings show that the pre-service teachers did not experience the counternarratives as counternarratives, they reappropriated the texts to fit their dominate narrative. Further, the pre-service teachers were more comfortable having discussions of gender rather than race. The discussion provides description of how each book resonated with the pre-service teachers by focusing on how they conceptualized the messages presented in each counternarrative. Implications of this study for teacher education as well as further research are also provided.

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