Whitey on the Moon: pedagogy of the privileged - negotiating conflicting teacher identity positions in a context of privilege

Barbeli, Talia
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This school-based, qualitative study examines the ways in which critically conscious, white English teachers in South Africa, teaching mostly affluent, white learners in an elite-schooling context, navigate the conflicts and possibilities for political action in this positioning. This research therefore focuses on teacher identity through the lenses of Poststructuralism, Feminist Research, and Whiteness Studies, and education through the lens of Critical Pedagogy. In a series of focus group sessions with the researcher’s own English-teaching colleagues, the participants’ talk captures their grappling with their identity positions, when their very identities and teaching context benefits from the maintenance of a system which centres and privileges whiteness. The researcher uses the focus group sessions and a Researcher Journal to formalise and capture an already existing community of enquiry, reflection, critique, and collaboration. Through a discourse analysis of the transcribed conversations, the researcher examines the discursive binaries which result in slippages of self, and the antagonistic positionalities in which the teachers find themselves, as they try to make sense of what Pedagogy For The Privileged means to privileged teachers. The analysis also explores the significance of discourses of emotional labour. This research problematizes these discourses as it unpacks this positioning within the urgent and fraught context of post-Apartheid South African schools, in which the legacies of colonialism and apartheid are deeply embedded. It is therefore in this rupture of identity in which this research is located; the researcher uses Scott-Heron’s metaphor for the invisibility of privilege to the privileged, to problematize and contextualise the white, critically conscious educator as a ‘Whitey On The Moon’. The software programme NVivo is used to aid the discourse analysis
A dissertation submitted to the Wits School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education, 2020