Collective and Experiential Dimensions of Teachers' Practical Knowledge: African American Women in the Professoriate Speak

Article excerpt

This study documents and analyzes the nature and content of the knowledge that enables professors to foster learning for African-American students. Its findings suggest that there is a complex grounding for this type of pedagogical competence, one that goes beyond mastery of subject matter knowledge and beyond simply sharing racial and/or gender identity with students. Specifically, it suggests that knowledge of the discourses about education within students' communities of origin, discourses often based on collective historical experience, is a valuable resource to professors in their efforts to promote educational equity for African-American students. Integrating relevant historiographic theory with teacher practical knowledge theory, this study develops an epistemology of teachers' practical knowledge drawn from such historically informed discourses. For concrete examples of this knowledge in practice we will look specifically at the experiences of African American women in the professoriate because they are in the double-bind of historically experiencing marginalization in society as a result of their racial identity as well as their positionality as a result of their gender. …